“A Reason to Stay”
Created: 10/23/2022, 4:28 p.m
Michael Nguyen in conversation.
c © michael-nguyen.jpg
Gautinger photographer Michael Nguyen talks about his inspiration and passion
– The photo artist and documentary photographer Michael Nguyen lives in Gauting and is co-founder of the online photo magazine Tagree.
Now he is exhibiting 34 of his photographic works under the title "Clarity of Seeing, Fantasy of Interpretation" in the foyer of the Max Planck Institute in Martinsried.
The exhibition can be seen from October 24th to December 9th at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry (MPI) in Martinsried (Am Klopferspitz 18).
Our employee Miriam Pietrangeli-Ankermann spoke to the artist.
Mr. Nguyen, how did you get into photography?
I have no formal training in photography.
I am a trained nurse and after my training I worked in intensive care units, in rescue centers and on the emergency ambulance.
During this work I was confronted with great suffering and death.
This certainly had an influence on my photographic work.
As you can see, many of my photos are melancholic and sometimes a bit somber.
I got into photography when I was working as a journalist for art and culture.
One of my main themes was “Greece” and there was a lot to do with photography.
In close collaboration with Dr.
Matthias Harder (now director of the Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin, editor's note), we laid the foundations for understanding the photographs by Herbert List and Walter Hege.
Learning from these experiences, I began
to make art himself, initially as a writer and collage artist.
In 1988 I bought my first camera and started taking pictures.
For personal reasons I then withdrew from art for many years.
In the late 80's and early 90's I was active in the Berlin underground art scene.
Back then, I didn't earn enough money from art to make a living.
With a heavy heart I decided to return to my medical profession, which I worked in until 2018.
In 1996, after water damage occurred in the basement of the apartment building where I lived, many negatives from 1988 to 1996 were damaged.
I initially spent months in late 2018 restoring and scanning the negatives.
Since then I have devoted myself fully to art again without any major constraints and am happy to work as a freelance photographer and artist.
So it wasn't really a break, it was an interruption.
And in a way, it gave me a whole new start with new perspectives and goals.
Which motives captivate you?
There are four motif areas that captivate and inspire me.
Facades of buildings, because for me buildings are not static objects with four walls and a roof.
They are sculptures.
The designs made of brick, glass, wood or other materials that architects use are their "clothes" that make our cities and urban spaces more beautiful and lively.
Then play of light and reflections captivate me.
I capture magical moods.
Reflective surfaces make you think.
Looking into a mirror image opens up new perspectives, the viewer is invited to take a very close look.
Likewise urban elements and details, where I concentrate on the geometric, the symmetrical and the shapes and colors in detail.
I leave the diverse surroundings aside.
And I love shadows.
They are like yin and yang, disorder and order, fire and water.
The interplay between these elements makes everything interesting.
The light casts the shadows... the shadows do magic.
What inspires you?
Seeing and perceiving.
I try to go through the world with open eyes every day and to be very aware of my surroundings.
What does a person perceive in their environment?
Seeing and not seeing in our everyday life and in our environment is the theme and inspires me in my artistic photography in the four areas mentioned above.
Many people are busy with different thoughts when they are out and about outside their home.
Problems within the family, in a partnership, stress at work.
Ukraine war, Corona, financial worries.
This affects our perception, be it on the way to work, shopping or other activities.
However, if we "see deeper" this can be an enrichment for us.
Tell me about the exhibition "Clarity of Seeing, Fantasy of Interpretation", why did you choose this title?
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The title of the exhibition was chosen by Rainer Funke, a professor of design theory, who wrote a text about the pictures in the exhibition and says that my pictures offer a reason to linger.
I would succeed in creating such an occasion by creating clarity in vision and challenge in interpretation through reduction and emphasis.
What stories are there about the photographs on display and which is your favorite photo in the exhibition?
There are many stories.
I don't want to tell them here because it would go beyond the scope and I want to arouse different associations in the viewers of the pictures.
I have two favorite images, one is the photo titled Planar Lineup of Time/Planar Lineup of Time.
It shows architecture in Düsseldorf's Medienhafen.
At first glance, the photo looks like a straight collage of three vertical parts.
However, it is a real scene shot from a specific perspective to show three different three-dimensional structures in a two-dimensional plane.
The two buildings represent three different styles of architecture, the appearance of which reflects the past, present and future.
The second picture is a motif I took in Berlin.
It is titled “Shadow of an EKG |
Shadow of an EKG” and shows a fascinating play of shadows – a house facade is being renovated.
On one of the upper floors there is a red and white construction cone on scaffolding against a black background.
Against the black background, the cone casts its shadow through an opening between the scaffolding and the wall onto the wall of the floor below.
How did Tagree Magazine come about?
I founded Tagree Magazine with a friend.
We did a lot of cultural work together in the early 90's and after all these years we had the idea to publish a magazine again and enjoy this cultural work.
He is responsible for the publishing side, I for the editorial side.
What projects do you have planned next?
I am currently working on two projects with the Buchendorf artist Susanne Kotrus, who uses my photographs as the basis for transfer lithographs.
It thus shows photographic art projects and their typographical “transformation”.
Transfer lithography is an adventure.
With this technique, motifs can be transferred into artistic works with the help of laser copies.
This can be supplemented by drawings, paintings and collage techniques.
There are no limits for your creativity.
In the second project we will choose large-format photographs of mine, which she will paint over with acrylic paint in certain places.