The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University is hosting “101 Photographs for Freedom of the Press: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Reporters Without Borders,” an exhibition of works by over 60 MAGNUM photographers to support the worldwide initiatives of Reporters Without Borders in defense of freedom of the press from March 21 through April 22 at the main gallery at Lesley University, 700 Beacon Street, Boston.
One of those participating photographers, Thomas Dworzak, who joined Magnum Photos in 2000 and became a full member of the organization in 2004, conducted an email interview with artscope managing editor, Brian Goslow.
ARTSCOPE: Where are you and what are you working on?
DWORZAK: Am back in the Caucasus again, mostly based in Tbilisi, Georgia. Just spent almost a year on and off with the Georgian troops in Afghanistan.
ARTSCOPE: What made you choose this line of work?
DWORZAK: Curiosity. Curiosity. Curiosity. And earlier on in the depth of my youth, bored by my life in small town Bavaria. Desire to prove myself that I could do the absolute opposite from it.
ARTSCOPE: What part is journalism, what part is art and do you see it as a combination of the two?
DWORZAK: Guess a combination of the two. Painting with light bearing witness is surely true. Am not very happy with either definition. Am of course leaning to journalism as the holy thing. But in an ideal situation it’s all just some living of an experience, absorbing a reality, reacting from the stomach and the taking pictures becomes a natural occupation
ARTSCOPE: What makes a great photograph?
DWORZAK: When it sort of all falls into place. The content. The information. The framing, the light. Innocence. And a good dose of confusion… But in general think there is less of an importance of “great photographs”… a lot depends on the context it is shown, the presentation.
ARTSCOPE: Many of the photos in “101 Photos for Press Freedom” were taken in regions or countries where a segment of the population or leadership do not want their wrongdoings exposed – despite this, how do you get in a position to get the images you want.
DWORZAK: Trying everything in my power and cunning to get access, until selling my grand mother to get access.
ARTSCOPE: How often do you go somewhere where you know what you’re looking for, but not sure where it is when it will find you and you’ll have to be ready to document it?
DWORZAK: It’s like sports I guess in a way. Need to accumulate knowledge and experience in order to get there, but then, at the instant, be free and forget all the preconceptions….
ARTSCOPE: Can you describe the feeling in taking an image you know has the potential/will expose atrocities or misdoings that could lead to better conditions for the people there?
DWORZAK: I do not have this pretension.
ARTSCOPE: What kind of images says to you this is what makes it all worthwhile?
DWORZAK: No image makes anything worthwhile.
To be allowed to explore, see, etc all this by doing something decent (with much less pathos than the previous question implies) is one of the biggest privileges I can imagine and I shall be grateful for it every day.
(The opening reception for “101 Photographs for Freedom of the Press: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Reporters Without Borders” is on Wednesday, March 28 from 5-8 p.m. The following evening (Thursday, March 29), The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University will host a Strauch-Mosse Visiting Artist Panel Discussion with Magnum photojournalists Antoine D’Agata, Thomas Dworzak and Susan Meiselas moderated by Alex Kershaw, author of “The Life and Times of Robert Capa,” at 7:30 p.m. at Washburn Auditorium, Lesley University, 10 Phillips Place, Cambridge. The event is co-sponsored by The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, the Consulate General of France in Boston in collaboration with and Magnum Photos and the Photographic Resource Center.
For examples of Dworzak’s work, visit: www.magnumphotos.com.