With & Without - Artist Statement
A MICHAEL FLICEK Photography Exhibition
At Scarlows Gallery in Casper, WY
February 13, 2015 - March 13, 2015
With & Without is two exhibitions in one. The Aspen Countryexhibition contains 18 color photographs made in Wyoming. The City Life exhibition contains 30 black and white photographs made in great cities of the world in the United States, Europe and China.
The best time to be in aspen country is during the peak season for color. In Wyoming this is likely to be in late September. Aspen country is best experienced on foot in the backcountry where the only trails are made by elk, deer and other wild animals. Wyoming is rich with this kind of aspen country. In Wyoming, at these times and places, the annual ritual of elk rut is in full swing. The further one wanders from the jeep trails the more likely one is to experience the sounds of bull elk bugling, cow elk mewing and antlers clanging against other antlers or young trees. The sound of an elk bugle can quite accurately be described as ethereal. If one is even more fortunate one might see the creatures as they are making these sounds. To increase your chance of having such an experience it is advisable to leave your camp and begin hiking in the dark, while Orion is still looking down upon you and stars are shooting across the sky above. Having considerable experience being in such places during such times without a camera, I'd found myself contemplating the kind of photographs that I might make if I did have a camera. This year I made it a point to find myself in aspen country at such a time with a camera. Aspen Country is not about the wildlife, although aspen country is all the more special because of the wildlife. My Aspen Country photographic story is about the country itself. It is primarily, although not exclusively, a story about a trail less place experienced from before daylight and on through a long day spent traveling on foot up and down the hills and drainages. It is the kind of place that one might seek out if one was looking for an experience of the thread that holds the universe together.
Great cities of the world have an energy that emanates from the life that is happening within them. That energy pulsates to the routines, events and patterns of human activity that are peculiar to a particular city. The energy varies by city and time of day. While it is possible to make compelling photographs within cities that do not include people, I tend to look for ways to respectfully include people in photographs. The people provide a means for capturing the energy of the city. While the people included in my photographs are individuals, I'm inclined to think of the people in the photographs as archetypes of various characters in the story of the city. All cities, in my experience, have the street musician character. A minstrel in Barcelona can be viewed an archetype of street musicians everywhere. Street musicians are compelled to make music and share it with others. Beyond that, most musicians are driven by a desire to create an income stream, however meager, by making music. Some musicians do better than others. The musician archetype practically defines the energy that unique to the French Quarter in New Orleans just as cable cars uniquely define the San Francisco experience. If you've ever been to San Francisco you surely understand that unreliability is a prominent part of the cable car experience. The same can be said of the trolley experience in New Orleans. Encountering music, cable cars or trolleys at night adds a noir atmospheric to the experience. Black and white night photography in cities provides a window into that noir atmospheric. Dark and rainy days have their own noir sensibility. Rainy days bring out umbrellas and Gustave Caillebotte's 19th century painting Paris: A Rainy Day forever associated rainy days and umbrellas with Paris. One way to get out of the rain on a rainy day in Paris is to hop on a carousel within the shadow of the Eiffel Tower or while ascending the steps to the cathedral on the hill in Montmartre. City Life is my attempt to convey these energies, moods and sensibilities of some of the world's great cities.