Sunday, August 4, 2013

Dean Nixon

A self-taught photographer, strongly influenced by the work of Ansel Adams and Cartier-Bresson, I am impressed by what is technically achievable as well as by the intensity of the decisive moment. The words of Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes are also important to me. My photographs have been published by magazines in New Zealand, Germany, Poland, and Hungary.

Born (1959) on a dairy farm in southern Hawkes Bay, as a child I explored – farmland, forests, mountains; eventually the rest of my country, and then the rest of the world. I would always bring something home to show and tell my mother and father about. When I was in my early 30's I suddenly realised that was the core of what I was doing with photography: there was something that I discovered that had to be shared. And that the truth still matters!

I have settled in a small city in former East Germany – it’s a place to study and document the effect of the western economic, political and philosophical way of life on a populace that has been taught a conflicting ideology. I feel my adopted home is now the borderline between two great philosophical ideas.

The self-portrait, or for that matter, any photographic image, is not a mirror as one might think, it is a kind of infinite sum (an unrepeatable frozen moment, chemistry, form, mental and spiritual layers...) therefore it possesses more meaning than what you may discover from the real person (see Barthes). It means one may approach the truth through contemplation and surprise, hence "I am not who you think I am; I am more like my photograph".

I Am Not Who You Think I Am (I Am More Like My Photo)
A self-portrait in an existential crisis moment referring to Roland Barthes treatise Camera Lucida on the photo and identity “…another kind of meaning that arises almost accidentally yet without being simply 'the material' or 'the accidental'; this is the eponymous third meaning.”

The mysterious event which has produced the paradox of humanity´s collective sin or guilt. Why do we do what we do. This is a black and white image, made with normal film, then bleached and re-toned using a gold solution.

Artist: Tom Henniges
The moment between conversation and thought…a space where anything can happen.

The Artist: an un-guarded moment
Not posed. An artist who had just lost his family…relating this in tears. There is a price to pay for what we do…through our art we are battling the hordes, the demons, those things which are sent to prevent us from finding the truth, and in that concentration to catch the elusive prize, we stand to lose everything else.

The Muse
A woman requires something, and muse has a price. She can bring you everything, but will destroy you just as easily. It was a woman I met late one night in a bar…the last two guests, she turned her head and looked at me -  her eyes bored straight into me and I knew what she was.

A Man and a Dog
Inspired by Sam Hunt´s line “A man can only find himself when lost”. Piha beach.

A woman (skin like porcelain, fragile) has turned away, hesitating, at once vulnerable and contemplative. The negative space to mark that there is much behind her, yet the shadow is still before her… Is it possible to escape from ourselves?

Karl-Heine Kanal
Industrial, built in a golden age. Now almost still, stagnant, stinking. Yet the sun still shines, and efforts are being made to rejuvenate it for recreational use.  Life – death –life. 

The Warrior
In Kenya in 1990…far from the tourist track, a young man who had just returned from a successful hunting trip: to hunt down and kill raiders armed with guns who had stolen girls and animals from his village. To be suddenly confronted with the normality of such an existence was heart-stopping, and the look he gave me was indescribable.

Mt Eden TAB
Fred sat there every day…sipping coffee and watching the passing locals. I stopped right in front of him and raised my camera, one shot, he didn´t bat an eyelid…as though I was meant to record this moment. I never saw him again, and thus began to understand street photography.

New York 1993
 Very shortly after the first bomb attack in 1993 in which several people died I went to New York to see this monument to western philosophy, to try to understand what we were doing…still full of the ideal that our culture would help the others who struggled and suffered. I stood across the Hudson River to get this perspective, and observed the two fishermen who were oblivious to the significance of these events, and the events that were to come. The juxtaposition of the two men and the two towers…the gulf between, the sun throwing the shadows across us. They were long shadows…

Buller fish and chips
Iconic West Coast. I followed the small roads in New Zealand as often and long as I could. It was here I would find the real New Zealander, faces and stories. These moments are anchors.

Henry Downes
 The terror and torture of the artist genius. A good friend…lost out there somewhere. This unguarded moment says everything I knew about him, but also tells me that I know nothing. I didn´t pose this, and couldn´t know what I had captured until later whn I was able to study the print. Something that is not really possible to emulate with digital photography although it may still happen: the difference here is that I have nothing to immediately evaluate. I had to rely on my instincts much more. This is how a good portrait should function.

Waitress Maxi
One of the lost generation of east Germans, whose parents were infused with the socialist mentality, only to have their secure little bubble burst with the east-west reunification in 1990. Nobody can guide her into this new world. I started this project over 10 years ago, but already see a change in attitude as the younger ones seem to be somehow tougher. It is a document of the human condition, as the portrait should be able to tell you more about the world we live in than images of the world itself.

He has no name. I didn´t pose him. I simply stood back and allowed him to position himself…to present himself to the world as he wished. I don´t know his world. He grew up as a socialist worker, was given his role and his patriotism. That it collapsed in 1989 doesn´t seem material to him; he is who he is, and is proud yet slightly perplexed.

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