AXEL STEVENS.

AN INTERVIEW.

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I found this really interesting quote on your profile: Destroy your images before they destroy you. What does this mean according to you?

This quote actually refers to an internet project of mine namely the website www.feed-me-fotos.bewhere people can upload (their) discarded images, images they would otherwise delete from their cameras and smartphones ; those images that are considered “bad” images. The site is a kind of visualization machine showing a coming and going of useless images. What’s more, it is also a eh “useless” site. This happened after I had read Vilem Flusser’s “Towards a philosophy of photography” and his essay made me think more critically about images, what they are, the purpose they serve, why we do seem to need/make more and more of them. The quote…the way I see this is…they (images), and these can be television, videogames, photographs, advertising, the computerscreen, tablets, cellphones etc. Virtualize our world and our experience, even our emotions. It commodifies everything. It creates a distance. On a personal level I have got to say that I have a tendency to collect things. Like images. Boxes full of them. So the quote, for me, has a very practical use: don’t loose myself. Keep my purse closed if I walk by a stall in a fleamarket and see a shoebox full of images.

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I am a fan of analog, however I would surely agree that a good picture is a good picture regardless the medium. what makes a “good” picture to you?

Yes, I agree “regardless the medium”. A visceral, gut feeling is what makes a “good” photograph. If I get the developed contactprints back from the store and I go through them and all of a sudden I see this one image and…it is almost something that I cannot describe…this one image makes me feel good. The photograph doesn’t have to be all that sharp or even have recognizable subject matter. I think, and I even think that this goes for everybody who practices or loves photography, that you know instinctively when you come across a good photograph. Actually, the most beautiful, enticing, sad and mesmerizing photographs I see are not even my own; they are in those shoeboxes that I bring home from fleamarkets and thriftstores. The lives of whole families contained in a shoebox..lives lived and forgotten. All shot without any intention to be artistic. And with colours that would make the set designers of Mad men jealous.

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Do you have some favourite pictures among your own shots? Which ones and why?

Favorite photographs of my own? http://wearebeautifuldreamers.tumblr.com/post/38626003512 . I’m an intuitive, emotional person with a great need for structure and clarity. I’m extremely hypersensitive and have a mild, mild form of autism and this reflects itself in the pictures I make.

This photograph is very composed and you can almost feel its surface and then there is this void, this nothing in its centre. A sad spooky picture. http://wearebeautifuldreamers.tumblr.com/post/26218080031

A digital picture. I asked the little girl to look through the window. Again, structurally this photograph is very composed, balanced. Almost as everything is where it is supposed to be. And yet, it has an almost eerie feeling to it. Maybe she wants to break out of the frame http://wearebeautifuldreamers.tumblr.com/post/28762509270

Oh boy…This is like a punch in the gut ! I’m looking at it now and my eyes begin to water. Silly.
Notice the woman about to cross the street ? Maybe, for me, every photograph is a self portrait ?
http://wearebeautifuldreamers.tumblr.com/post/19287087546

I have my preferences regarding photographs and influences and I can’t deny that for me the early work of stephen shore – american surfaces and uncommon places – does something to/with me.
I was in hospital for an operation and here was this old t.v. Aiming and shooting, Instantanious.

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How has studying influenced the way you see and photograph?

It is a state funded education based on interaction with the people around you, learning by seeing and listening, talking. Above all…it made me a better human being. The people who’ve made this journey with me so far are…they’re…sweet. Another 2 years and its over. Thinking about that sometimes freaks me out.

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Are you a beautiful dreamer? What is one of your most beautiful dreams you ever had?

Am I a beautiful dreamer?  Well, I’m not that beautiful anymore…time has taken its toll 😉 I’m a vivid dreamer : full colour, sound…but…the dreams I have are…they’re frightening. I’m plagued by frightening colourfull dreams about not finding my way home anymore, about loss, death. About searching people. I used to fly a lot in my dreams but that’s over.

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In real life, what are your dreams for the future?

I for one wished I could diminish my smoking habit, a pack of Marlboros a day is too much. I have an exhibition in November and, touch wood, I hope that’s gonna work out. I’d just like to continue my life, take photographs, make stuff and have the odd show once in a while.

The only thing I really want is to live.
Oh yeah…that and winning euromillions 😉

Interview by Amanda M. Jansson

http://www.feed-me-fotos.be/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tweng/

http://wearebeautifuldreamers.tumblr.com/

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