Wednesday 7 September 2011

Michael Ackerman

We stumbled across this haunting, yet rather dramatised multimedia piece on Michael Ackerman's Half Life, the book of which is featured in issue #11 of 1000 Words. In his review, Francis Hodgson took exception to the project stating, among other things, that although the book is often very moving it is not coherent.

"The manner is dark and often blurred, with a heavy grain and a permanent air of history weighing directly upon each photograph just as the light does. There is (or there purports to be) a great deal behind these photographs which is not actually in them. A text by Denis Kambouchner suggests that the pictures are haunted. But Ackerman’s history is not broad, although it runs deep. He has a neat trick of confining himself to that part of our cultural baggage which is shared enough that no further explanations are needed. Dark woods are a simple example. Dark woods are the places of fairy stories, but also of massacres. Naked men in the shower have overtones of concentration camps. Even if you look at photographs of the traditional showers used by the racers after the famously brutal Paris-Roubaix cycle race, they often have those overtones. Ackerman has been living and working for some years in Poland, where he can’t resist the trains: train journeys through Poland are also a branded historical reference. A composite is building up. Ackerman’s subject is often the second world war, and the legacy it has left even as the memory of it fades. And when he’s not looking directly there? Tense pictures of men with hard faces, or naked women, or people on beds. Mini-adventures up stairs or through woods. Smoking and drinking. Again, a composite is building up. This is the mind of a teenage boy. Not the football and Xbox sort of boy, but the more soulful Rimbaud-reading boy interested in death and melancholy."

The rest of the review is available here.