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Andamento lento

04 feb. 2021 — 30 jun. 2021

Michael Ackerman

The photographs in this exhibition were taken in Naples in different stays from 2000 to 2016.

“The first time that I remember hearing about Napoli was in Varanasi. I think it was 1997. I was photographing by the river and an Italian who could see how much I liked the chaos all around told me I must see Napoli. I decided that this was a good place to be for the end of the Millennium. On New Year’s Eve 2000, I found myself at midnight on the street, hiding behind a garbage container, laughing, while the fireworks came from every direction. 20 years later I still regret escaping that chaos to go to a boring bourgeois party.
In the summer of 2001, I was in Napoli again with my girlfriend, Ala, having a beautiful holiday. Going to the beach, cafes, shopping. Too beautiful.  Often, when I feel this complacency, I’m frustrated and I push myself to break it. One night, quite late, I told her to wait for me at home (exactly this same place on via Toledo where you are seeing this exhibition). I went out looking for something. I went to a small winding alley where I’d seen a huge amount of needles and syringes on the ground. There was a man standing against the wall. From a distance I raised my camera but slowly and only to my stomach, trying to be invisible. He told me in English ‘Come here. I don’t bite’. As he put the needle in I took many pictures very fast, very nervous and touched by his openness (I saw him there again, doing the same, over the next few nights). I returned home and found Ala lying down in bed, reading a book and holding a Polaroid picture of my face”. (M.A.)

Born in Tel Aviv in 1967, Michael Ackerman spent his childhood and youth in New York where his family emigrated in 1974. He started photographing at age 18. In 1998 he was awarded the prestigious Infinity Award for Young Photographer by the International Center of Photography in New York.
In 1999, the publication of End Time City by Robert Delpire was a shock and a rare discovery of a talent of great intensity, his approach was new, radical and unique. Ackerman gave us his haloed vision of Varanasi: a dark and tormented wandering of a city where life is all the more exuberant as death inhabits it. This book, awarded with the Prix Nadar, was followed by the publication of Fiction and Half life. In 2009, he received the SCAM Roger Pic Award for Departure, Poland.
All of Ackerman’s work explores time and timelessness, personal history and history of places, driven by an existential urgency that is sometimes desperate and luminous, violent and tender. In black and white, with permanent risk that led him to explore impossible lighting, he allowed the grainy images to create enigmatic and pregnant visions. Decayed and damaged images, not as a matter of style but a direct analogue of experience, which is never pristine.
His work has been exhibited in solo and group shows in all over the world and is part of many prestigious international collections. He currently lives in Berlin.