F8 Mag: Interview with Jon Michael Anzalone

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From the upcoming (March 11) issue of www.f8mag.com

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F8 Mag: Interview with Jon Michael Anzalone

  1. 1. A54 Jon Michael Anzalone Portfolio 55 Jon Michael nzalone Noise in the Soul Bucharest, Romania. 2008. # 2 MARCH 2011
  2. 2. 56 Jon Michael Anzalone Portfolio 57 In April of 2011, photographer Jon Michael Anzalone is traveling I did most of my best work to date during dark times in my life, and I I did most of my best to Istanbul, where he plans to shoot a roll of film every hour for think that is reflected in the work. There are calms before storms, storms work to date during 24 consecutive hours. We spoke with him a little bit about his before calms, and the ability to find love in it all: a joy at the end of all dark times in my life, background as an artist and about the project. things. and I think that is Why did you become a Your photos are usually slightly out of focus, noisy, vaporous. It reflected in the work. photographer? reminds us of past epochs. What do you think about this? There are calms before I picked up a Holga about 6 years ago because someone showed me Timelessness is an important quality storms, storms before photos they took with it. I found the optics of it very appealing--dreamy to me. I want my work to be relevant in or out of context of its time. I avoid calms, and the ability to and strange, unpredictable. I have always been a creative person, but I pop culture references or things like cars, street signs, advertisements- find love in it all: a joy just lack the ability to render things realistically. When I found the Holga, I -anything that could shift focus from the image onto all of these at the end of all things. found that its optics worked well with unremarkable signifiers. my creative process. Something could be real and yet still feel unreal. It was There is a great Peter Adams quote, very appealing to me. I’ve since moved that photography is about “depth of away from the Lomography / plastic feeling, not depth of field.” Laying too camera trend for a variety of reasons. heavily into technical training can take the soul out of photography. I Do you remember the first photo see photographs that do that and it that impacted you? feels like someone is shouting at me. After all, the camera is only a means By the time I was being exposed of expression. In your photography I to good photography, I was being want to see that you have expressed exposed to a lot of it. It’s hard yourself, not that you are good at to remember a particular first doing an unintriguing thing. as a standout. There are a few photographers whose work is a Do you prefer to use analog or constant inspiration to me: Roman digital photography? Drits, Noel Ruiz, Zehra Guveli, John Vanderslice, Kahka Kahkiani, Ori Jauch. I am a film purist. I will not work in digital. The day they take away my film How would you define your is the day I take up painting! photography? What type of analog equipment I think photography is about the use it on your projects? marriage of moments: the internal, what is going on inside the artist’s As I mentioned earlier, I started with emotions, and the external, what is a Holga. A few years later, I found a going on in the emotion of the place Voigtlander Vito CL camera in a flea or subject. market. Someone must have thought it was broken and sold it, > Riga, Latvia. 2008. # 2 MARCH 2011
  3. 3. 58 Jon Michael Anzalone Portfolio 59 Virginia Beach, Virginia. 2008. # 2 MARCH 2011
  4. 4. 60 Jon Michael Anzalone Portfolio 61 > but I was able to fix it. I bonded with that camera over several trips and I understand it very well. My girlfriend’s father gave me his old Nikon, which was such a great honor, and the work that I have done with it thus far has been very much to my liking. As for film, I love Ilford. I really like to shoot 400 and 3200 speed Ilford B&W. What kind of post-production techniques do you employ? I develop all of my B&W film at home and scan the negatives. I try to be true to the image as best as I can, but I’m not above making creative post-production choices if it means salvaging a strong image that would have been lost otherwise. You can’t tell, I promise. Tell us briefly what your workflow is like. I love to shoot when I travel, and I do that once a year if I’m lucky. I end up doing most of my photography over the course of a week or two and then do the production end of it when I return. I can’t sleep when I have undeveloped film at home. I work very hard and intensely. Then, if I’m lucky, there are shows. I’ve discovered that I love installation and figuring out how to use a space. Tell us about an experience that has marked your life. A location, a person, a situation... I spent a lot of time on trains between towns and cities. I would sit there and try to come up with manifests on my theories about photography. I wanted to have some kind of comprehensive written document on why this works for me the way it does. But I got distracted and stopped, and I saw something, stuck my camera out the> Istanbul, Turkey. 2008. # 2 MARCH 2011
  5. 5. 62 Jon Michael Anzalone Portfolio 63 Cluj, Romania. 2008. Sighisoara, Romania. 2008. # 2 MARCH 2011
  6. 6. 64 Jon Michael Anzalone Portfolio 65 My parents couldn’t hear from me until about 12 hours after the attacks began, so for all (a common situation in the state) so we couldn’t even read what was my school days. People who have been taken advantage of stand up for they knew I was in the middle happening on the news. themselves and cast off corruption and oppressive systems, and they stand of it. They had already been My parents couldn’t hear from me until about 12 hours after the attacks together and take care of each other. But everywhere in the US media there through this before with my began, so for all they knew I was in the middle of it. They had already been is constant reflection on Iran in ‘79. It’s so ignorant. brother who worked at the through this before with my brother who worked at the World Trade I had planned to begin my project in World Trade Center in NYC Center in NYC and had been late to work on 9/11, so he had been safe but Cairo because I wanted to show the daily, normal life of people in a country and had been late to work on unreachable for hours as well. with Islamic cultural heritage. Sharing these kinds of images--we all want 9/11, so he had been safe but I couldn’t put them through that any more, so I went to chase a few to have jobs, eat good food, love our families, better ourselves, and, for some unreachable for hours as job leads in Europe where I could stay with friends. Some of them had people, to honor God--disassembles some of the media constructs that well. hopeful prospects of getting my then- keep us from really seeing each > girlfriend a visa so she could join me, but it didn’t work out. The jobs all fell through and I ended up broke and back in New York, sleeping on a couch for a few months. The relationship fell apart of course, despite our best intentions. I did a lot of great work during those days. You travel to Turkey in April to begin a new project. Tell us about > window, and took a photo experience? it. Why Istanbul? like this. (up) This was a very difficult time for me. I actually had planned to do the It’s chaos, and you can struggle I was in a relationship with a girl in project in Cairo until the revolution to stand still and brace yourself, Mumbai. We had just come back to broke out, and there are a lot of layers or you can ride it and see what you the city from a long trip to a wedding of conflict and irony with everything find. If you’re overthinking when you in Nagpur, in central India. I remember here. This will be a little bit of a long are shooting, you aren’t going to get walking to the apartment that night story. a good result. You can overthink the and feeling like I was finally “home”. editorial stage when you choose the We would have gone out downtown The revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, and images that represent your experience. where the attacks were. We had hopefully Libya, have been stories Take good photos first. actually planned to but we were too that are so inspiring to me not only tired and went to sleep instead. We as a human, but also as an American. You lived in Mumbai in 2008 got a phone call in the middle of The overthrow of a government that during the terrorist siege. What the night asking if we were okay, and doesn’t respect its citizens, and to do was this situation like? What by morning we saw what was going so with general nonviolence, dignity, decisions did you take after this on. There was no electricity that day and pride--it’s what I learned to value while studying history throughout Brooklyn, New York. 2008. # 2 MARCH 2011
  7. 7. 66 Jon Michael Anzalone Portfolio 67 Sibiu, Romania. 2008. # 2 MARCH 2011
  8. 8. 68 Jon Michael Anzalone Portfolio 69 Istanbul, Turkey. 2008. Stockholm, Sweden. 2008. # 2 MARCH 2011
  9. 9. 70 Jon Michael Anzalone Portfolio 71 Istanbul, Turkey. 2008. Riga, Latvia. 2009. > other and respecting each Istanbul has a very different heritage, Part of the project, beyond what I feel to learn about myself as I do about other. I want to do my part to still with Islamic foundations, and are the extroverted aspects which I my subject, and like I said in one of remove fear from the media. it offers a metropolitan aspect that discussed in the previous question, are your first questions, I think what will means the city will have some part of the introverted aspects. be unique is the marriage of those Now, of course, that the region it that is awake during the night hours two things. It will be a very personal fell into conflict at this time to a of my project. I want to be able to look back at my document as well as a celebration of point where I couldn’t do the project project to read it step-by-step, minute- the world I discover. in Cairo seems to be a terrible irony. Restoring the recognition of the by-minute, to have a document of But what were people fighting for? dignity of all of the people in the how the thought process evolved that Thanks Jon, we hope to see the Dignity, eliminating corruption, world brings mutual respect, and that led me to the great photos. I know results of this exciting project democracy and representation, the in turn brings peace. And removing not every shot will be strong, I expect soon. ability to work and to buy food, self- fear from the American political them not to be. Normally on a good determination. These are all things barometer takes the wind out of the roll, I demand one great shot of myself. we hold very dearly as Americans. sails of the truly heinous political But the revolutionary period is an movements here in The States. The rest get put aside, but they do anomaly in the timeline. It would be have a value that explains the context fascinating to document it, but I am This is a very demanding project of the great photo. I also want to see not a journalist. which poses many challenges. what happens when there is the same Are you looking for challenges amount of emphasis put on photos I moved the project to Istanbul for in your projects that will get the taken in the perfect soft light in the personal security reasons as well the better of you as a professional evening as there is in the middle of fact that it is out of the context of the photographer? the night when I’ve been awake for constancy of daily life. some 20 hours. I think I have as much Jon Michael Anzalone portrait. # 2 MARCH 2011
  10. 10. 72 Jon Michael Anzalone Portfolio 73 jon michael a nzalone www.defeats.us Transilvania (countryside), Romania. 2008. # 2 MARCH 2011

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