One Voice is a new series of photographic portraits of displaced Tibetan refugees by internationally acclaimed photographer David Zimmerman, who has spent the last 18 years making art, teaching photography and living in northern India.
According to the artist, the series examines the notion of place, which “is integral to the core of human existence in that it is central to our feelings of completeness, or lack thereof….Much is revealed about these displaced people through the expressions in their faces…their posture.”
One Voice will be on view at Sous Les Etoiles Gallery, located in SoHo, NY, from October 10th to November 30th, 2013.
Raquel Zimmerman in Alexander McQueen, for Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2013 ad campaign. Photograph by David Sims.
Oh, the texture! Honey conveys a sense of luxury and sensuality, so how perfect that Raquel could be doused in it for such an appropriately-themed collection? The bee necklace is front and center, and she seems to be a victim; the insects have swarmed around her neck and covered her in their sticky material. This picture has a subtle darkness that is true to the McQueen brand and highlights the look of the collection.
Law is embedded in and protects—intentionally and inadvertently–structures that are unequal—racially, sexually, and class wise. It is irrational to think that Zimmerman was culpable but not use the legal system to say so. White privilege must be held accountable for its criminality or, close the courts and the prisons.
David Zimmerman is 55 years old and will be traveling to Uzbekistan & Kazakhstan sometime later this year. He is really looking forward to it.
MOSSLESS: Your creative practice began with the traditional arts. What led your decision to switch from sculpture and painting to photography? DAVID ZIMMERMAN: In some ways, I really haven’t switched. I still do work in sculpture some, primarily for myself, and much of what I photograph I consider closely related to creating sculpture, but with a camera instead of my hands. I have gone much farther with photography though and feel that photography gives me more freedom to work with social and environmental issues as well as studies of form and texture and light.
ML: The biggest environmental issue currently is the oil spill in the Gulf Coast. Recently, you have made portraits of the people directly affected by the disaster, with a style similar to Richard Avedon’s In The American West. What was that experience like? And why the cloth backdrop instead of the actual landscape? DZ: The BP oil spill has had a devastating impact on the people of the Gulf region. Many experts believe it could be decades before the region is fully restored, and the future of many who live there remains uncertain.
I spent weeks immediately after the spill photographing the landscape drenched with oil; the marshes silently dying. The devastation I saw off-shore reflected in the faces of the people on-shore. I knew then it was the stories of the people I wanted to tell. I use an 8x10 view camera for all of the portraits. Using a large camera slows down the entire process and the simple canvas backdrop helps focus what I’m looking for in the eyes and the hands and the gesture, which for me, tell the story. It was important for me to limit elements and a myriad of stylistic choices when it came to the background and the environment. My intention was not to editorialize or to create a photograph that reflected on me, as a photographer, as much as it did on the people. They are snapshots in a sense, as a record of a people at a moment in time. I plan to print life-size, and the 8x10 film will give me nearly lifelike detail, making the people as real as a photograph can be.
The rather slow process also created more opportunities to talk, and I have recorded many hours of conversation. Gaining the trust of people inundated with media racing to meet a deadline takes time, and so we sat for hours listening to their stories.
ML: Taking time to understand a subject seems to be a continuing element in your work. How was your patience tested during the making of your Desert series? What was the average time span for each photograph? DZ: I think about the many times I’ve been in India working on my Ganges River project and about all the time I spent waiting and watching and listening to the things and people around me. The waiting almost always showed me something I would have missed. No matter where I am, it seems that the waiting and observing lets the world around me revolve as though I wasn’t even there. And by staying in one spot for long periods I can observe even more closely the details and relationships in a place. The desert photographs sometimes took several days each. When I find a location I often go back to it many times as the light and weather changes.
ML: Favorite time of day? DZ: I love the time an hour before sunrise and an hour or two after sunset. The light is soft, the colors are muted and many places I go take on a very quiet nature.