15 April 2009

meeting photographers: Alex Majoli

Alex Majoli, from the exhibition Un monde en partage, 2008, photo courtesy of The Foundation Group TP.

Fblog /joanna/: let me first introduce myself. I work in the gallery of fine arts, I deal with photography mainly in the education goals. I represent the Fblog, which is international group of people. It is a blog “about photography, with photographs by photographers”.We’ve been lately talking with Alec Soth or Martin Parr.
Mr Majoli, how would you describe your work? You are photographer, photojournalist, war-photographer, or documentary photographer…?

Alex Majoli: No, that is up to you to describe, not me.

Fblog: So how would you describe yourself?

Alex Majoli: I don’t. I’m just making picture. I’m a photojournalist, but also… it’s not easy to categorise, if you look at my war picture then i’m a war photograper, if you look on my “isolation” pictures then i’m art photographer, if you look my portrait, then i’m an editorial portrait photographer. Sometimes i do advertisement photography, so i’m an advertisement photographer. How can you describe this?

Fblog: We call it in Poland “an interesting person”. Afterall you cover all these topics.

Alex Majoli: Yeah, the country I come from is famous of it’s handicrafts, in everything. They’re able to riddle the things out of everything! But now it’s all going to merge.

Fblog: As we’re in Italy now, who is your favourite Italian writer? You’ve mentioned Luigi Pirandello in your “Libera Me” project…

Alex Majoli: One of my most favourite is definitely Pirandello, but there are many others. Calvino, Tabucchi, they are many… but favourite is Pirandello.

Fblog: And your favourite, the best photographer from Italy?

Alex Majoli: Can I name two? Luigi Ghirri and Mario Giacomelli.
Fblog: What was the hardest assignement you’ve get?

Alex Majoli: There were many different difficulties on an assignement. We say the hardest could be the last one, always. One was in Ghaza… because it was difficult to get access. And the other one was doing an documentary about jamaican diaspora in London. It was extremely difficult to photograph, and filming (because there was also documentary film), to make an access and do something that made sense. I had never as much difficulties in my life to get access to it.

Fblog: You’ve wrote on your Magnum site that once you had a big problem with power supply, you couldn’t charged your batteries, that was suprising and you weren’t ready for these circumstancves… do you remember in which project it was?

Alex Majoli: Maybe it was in Afghanistan, or it was one of the latest in Iraq, but no, in Iraq we always had some military power supply, I think it was Afghanistan.

Fblog: How does ideas for your personal projects emerge?

Alex Majoli: I believe in encounters. Like meet people and their stories, definitely. And I like to make a mathematic combination of things between who you are and what is your experience. Most of my projects, for example, my personal project come from a single fact that I work a lot in a place and then I found that something about this place that haven’t been told or I’m really interested on it.
I always have a list of things to do, of big projects. You’re never going through, you forget, and never do that. Sometimes you forget. At the moment I’m doing something about Brasil and I want to keep on working on this “Libera Me” project, which is completely different.

Fblog: So you’re saying you work sometimes with a mathematical approach…

Alex Majoli
: Mathematical, cause it’s about simple things. It goes like this: I like to photograph that city. And then, in that city: I like to photograph this and that, and then I’m coming from this culture and I assume my life to photograph the things.

: I’m not surprised by your “mathematical” approach, cause I believe “one vote” is a very conceptulised project.

Alex Majoli
: It is!

: It’s your first and only ver conceptulised one…

Alex Majoli
: But there is much more things to say, that you don’t know about, and maybe someday as my website – as I got one done, and show something much more conceptual than that! There are a lot of things I’ve done much more conceptual. For example photographed two chairs in my studio.

: You mean something like Joseph Kossuth?

Alex Majoli
: With the 4x5. They look at each other, then they go against, an then they make love at the end. And that is really conceptual.
Alex Majoli, from the exhibition Un monde en partage, 2008, photo courtesy of The Foundation Group TP.

: Why these conceptual ideas are in your work?

Alex Majoli
: I’ve studied art! You know, there is always something. I can’t define myself. I like to be a photojournalist, to photograph events, but then sometimes there is something that can lock me up, lock me inside in some situations and I need to express myself much more freely. And concept, I like when a concept comes from a real life, is not much thinking.
And about these chairs, I just had a big fight with my girlfriend. I would never do it, cause I wanted to do something for this or that museum. It was like this, we had a big fight, then I was alone. There were two chairs, supposed to be us, like selfportrait, and we fight, and I was left alone with the camera and these two chairs. So I started to make a love story of these chairs. The playground of love, this is a very little stupid series of two chairs.
I tell you one thing, about concepts. Once some people asked me to do a photography for an auction. It was some group for charity for refugee children and the money was supposed to go to the children who needs money, clothing, whatever refugee needs. So they’ve asked me for a picture made for children.So I’ve said, yes of course I can deliver a picture to make some money for children.
Then I was going through divorce. And there arrived a letter. I received one from a lawyers it was an agreement about my daughter. So it was something like this: the daughter can go out, the daugfhter can do this and can’t do that, la la, and I found myself so pathetic in this situation. I decided to take picture of this letter from the lawyer and I’ve sent this letter, a picture of this letter to the group. And they said “well we expected a picture.”
And I said: “yes, it’s a picture”, and you can’t accept this concept of the picture. Because it tells a lot of things. I also wrote some text to explain what is it about and it was sold for a highest bid, anyway!

PART1 / Alex Majoli / interview / 4.03.09 in French Insitute in Warsaw /
PART 2 --> here
thanks to Foundation of the Group TP / co-organized by Yours Gallery /
intervied by joanna kinowska / help by Sebastian Nowakowski