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    Disembodied Juxtapositions (The Photography of Mohir- an interview)
    Art is the language, photography is the medium, perception is the subject.”


    Many words have been poured unto the explication of the art of photography, none put it better maybe than Ansel Adams when he said that: “A photograph is not an accident - it is a concept.”
    The concept of photography as an art of juxtaposition is the subject matter of Mohir’s photography. Being a rogue philosopher and a self-proclaimed introspective artist, he uses his camera as an extension of his thought process. Denying the inevitability of the chaotic perspective, Mohir embeds a deconstruction thesis of the object into his photography, reconstructing the image he envisions by cracking the pose to reveal the absurd.

    It would be shortsighted of me to try and configure a verbal representation of the conversations I have had with him regarding his, at times, difficult, images. Nevertheless, having had the privilege to interview Mohir about his art and vision I have tried to reconstruct as best possible the gist of the talks.

    I am a great believer in art and design as forms of mentation and representation that excite our own desire to articulate certain kinds of sensations that are extremely difficult if not utterly impossible to render in words. Certain artists have this unusual capability to herald a new mind sense using their own particular skills, such is to my mind, the art of Mohir. By combining sophisticated methods of representation and philosophical insights into the actuality of his photography he is able to transcend the inherent limitation of perception and provide for us a visual representation of his vision of our futures.

    Disembodied juxtapositions

    The Photography of Mohir (Michael Lustig)- An interview

    Would you care to explain why do you call this body of works disembodied juxtapositions?

    Mohir: ..I see the term juxtapositions as describing the different layers of cultural realities we are continuously bombarded and impressed by and with. The main problem with our minds is that we are unable to juxtapose these different realities as a coherent picture in immediacy, since evolutionary wise we are wired to apprehend distinctions and separations, therefore consistently separating the layers that make up the fabric of reality. Disembodiment I use to relate to the factuality of our media mediated perceptions of separation, embodiment is a feature of our lives, we are embodied creatures, for now at least, and the sensation of carnality is what gives us the knowledge of our existence. When I say disembodiment I mean to show that the culture we experience is simultaneously both engendering carnality and distancing our sensations from the texts we write and the stories we tell. Disembodied juxtapositions therefore I see as an expression of the re-arrangement, or re-cohering if you like, of the pulse of life with the rhythm of culture.

    How does your photography attain this re-coherence or re-arrangement?

    Mohir: projecting and using a live model and using an image and sometimes fabrics (such as plain silk, colored cotton and the like) I try to create an image that precludes focusing on a unique and given set of reality or layers of realities, in that fashion I try and portray the enmeshing that is actually happening within our minds. This does not allow the observer to disregard some of these realities to favor a set of biases, because of the technique I use, I empower the apparent contradiction between these different kind of realities, I try in fact to reach a visual representation of that which happens in my mind.
    As an example take the visual illusions in which our perceptual mechanism keeps on flipping back and forth between different perceptions, in my work I try and create images that will, in a sense, force the viewer to produce a perceptual sensation that normally we are obliged to forsake. In a manner of speaking these images are meant to naturally enhance a confrontation of our perceptual machine, our eyes and by extension our brains. I wish to engender in the beholder a fused realism, a sensation of looking into the mirror of her own mind, represented visually in an image. I think about it as extended reflectivity, a process by which that which we see and that which we reflect upon mesh cohesively and beautifully, carnality as a textual self-revelation.

    Can you give me an example of how this appears in your work?

    Mohir: ..take the above picture, its called “human edition”, this is a rendering of a book cover that reads:” Tree of knowledge- the roots of human understanding- revised edition by Umberto Maturana” ( a book I heartily recommend). In this case I have projected the image of the cover to show how texts lose the original meant coherence under different orientations.. Even though there are meaningful words around, our brains focus on “human and edition” creating, as it were, a coherence that does not implicitly exists there but is a product of the process of juxtaposition created by the image. The body of the person represents in this case the canvas upon which the text is being reorganized.. I wanted her posture to invoke a contradiction within our common thought procedure, she obliged me by taking a very challenging posture, almost biblical in her physicality, in a sense she helped me grasp the roots of our understanding, the mental edition of our natural fleshiness.

    This last statement: ..the mental edition of our natural fleshiness?.. reminds of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus, specifically when they speak of:” It is no longer a question of imposing a form upon a matter but of elaborating an increasingly rich and consistent material, the better to tap increasingly intense forces.”

    Mohir: I am definitely a fan of Deleuze and Guattari and yes I agree that we can no longer impose a form on matter, but the way I see it to tap into what they call ‘intense forces’ elaboration is not enough, we need to juxtapose realities so as to permit our minds a visualization of our culture as an embodied space, I think that intensity really comes out when our editorial capability is being reflected on flesh.

    If you will look at “man ray on Back”, I can answer your question in this fashion.. in this image my main point was to juxtapose the story of Man Ray (probably one of the greatest artists of photography ever) which really is a story of our modern culture, with the body of the human.. I see our culture imprinted on our bodies, especially with regard to that which we consider important or valuable in terms of intellectual or artistic achievements, for me Man Ray is the icon representing the mental edition of our culture as imprinted on our flesh.
    The value of our internal intensity really folds into the visual textuality.

    you are very interested in evolution; can you correlate evolution to this body of work?

    Mohir: actually I am fascinated by the revolution that science and technology impress upon our aesthetics sense, I think that as we are evolving into a situation of self-guided evolution with regard to our own progress as specie, we can finally move beyond the old hard wired and necessary perceptual distinctions into a new form of mentation that I call juxtaposition, we can at present overcome these, to me obsolete, barriers of perception and resurrect old forms of aesthetic perception and comingle them with our technological know how. In the image “ resurrection” I have used the cover of the New Scientist magazine, that had an article about resurrecting extinct forms of life.. the very idea that through genetic engineering and biotechnology we could in the future bring back species that no longer walk among us, made me think about kinds of emotionsfeelingssensations we no longer consider relevant in our present hyper saturated info-culture. Notice that suddenly the term resurrection is no longer semantically connected to its biblical religious connotations but receives a new and juxtaposed meaning. In this instance I wished to present the carnality of our past as a counterpoint to our biotechnological future, myth versus science, the beast that we are, evolving the means to resurrect the beasts that are no longer. I find this amazing.

    To a casual observer however it will be very difficult to understand the disembodied part, how do you understand disembodiment in the context of self guided evolution and your art? Is it cultural? Mental? Spiritual?

    Mohir: for me spirituality is a very deep sense of the chaotic power of nature manifested through our bodies, I see it as something very primal, very boundary breaking and irreverent, a kind of pushing out and through, like the blade of grass that breaks open the tons of concrete poured upon it, that is why I see our intellectual ineffability as demanding of carnality, we need to feel again the depth of our sensuality as breaking through our superficial imagery of speed. I have chosen to show this by juxtaposing the image of Lola from “Run, Lola, Run” a film that impacted me much for many reasons, but the point is that within the rush of the screened action I saw our disembodied and chaotic nature, breaking through, it was a very connective moment for me, I practically felt a body, rushing out of the screen to meet me head on, a recurrent theme for me, an impression that I carry when I walk in the street, as if underneath all this advanced culture of ours, forces that are as old as the universe are striving to re-enmesh themselves with our motion forward. I see the photo “lola” as the representation of just such a chaos ripping the seems of the image.. it always reminds me how fragile the image that we carry is. I guess that what I mean is that we need re-introduce chaos into our equations.

    About your technique: how do you create these images? Where do you work? Also a few words about yourself.

    I work mostly in my studio, either in Oxford or Tel-Aviv (I spend about half of my time between these two places), I use a digital SLR camera, I like the Canon 5D but mostly I use my Canon 40D, I create the setting and sitting arrangement, with different fabrics and materials and then I invite the model, when he or she comes into the studio, we spend some time together, having a shot and discussing the idea that I have in mind for that particular session.
    I then let her or him play with the setting until they feel comfortable with the design, only then do I activate the episcope for projecting the image or text that I chose in advance, at that point we play and create a relation between the text, the image and the body, with every image I shoot a few takes.
    For me the session itself is a relevant happening and obviously the contact with the model is paramount and absolutely critical, I believe that the person taking part in the photo session brings as much to the take as I do..

    I have spent 51 years on this planet realizing that our future is in our hands, I am self taught and highly passionate about photography, as much as in any other avenue of interest I took in my life, I worked in IT for a while and as an entrepreneur I had my own internet start up.. but my life in the last seven years took a turn for the better with my taking photography as a serious occupation and the exploration of the mind as a life occupation.
    I have had both solo and group exhibitions some in London, some in Tel-Aviv, and took part also in exhibitions in Australia, the US. I was also chosen twice to participate in the juried exhibition at Cork st. Gallery in London for their annual charity event, something for which I am very proud.

    My work can be found online here: Mohir-art and My art space and here at Space Collective Mohir


    I think that art, especially contemporary photography, has, what for lack of a better description at present, I would call, a transformative potential to our perception. In some sense it will not be untrue to accept that as we evolve as a culture and as a civilization the role of the artist, and in this case the photographer is increasingly critical for our well being in the process of change. There is a certain kind of sanity that the photography of Mohir brings to my perception, an intriguing penetration into worlds and landscapes of visualization that for me (being more of a words person) are mostly inexistent.
    To quote the famous English photographer David Bailey: “It takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer. You need less imagination to be a painter because you can invent things. But in photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary. “
    I see Mohir’s body of works ‘Disembodied Juxtapositions’ as teaching me to see the extraordinary in the apparent ordinary and for this I thank him.

    Wed, Jan 20, 2010  Permanent link
    Categories: art, philosophy, Photography, Mohir
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