SM: Who are you?
MA: My name is Michael, and I’m a first generation American. My Father’s from Brakpan, South Africa and my Mother is from Vienna, Austria. I was born in St. Petersburg, Florida and have spent most my life, happily, in Florida.
SM: What are you?
MA: I’m an artist and writer, sometimes surfer-bum and fly-fisherman, currently obsessed with catching permit on fly. Walking and hiking are second best, but all these years away from the ocean have me looking south. I try to spend a good chunk of my time outside the city
SM: When are you?
MA: Well, I tend to be both morning-person and night owl. Surfing, fishing, and work tend to push me out of bed at awful hours, but a pool table in Florida makes me the inverse. I guess what and where determines when for me. But in less pretentious terms, it’s just past five pm on a Sunday in late July.
SM: Where are you?
MA: I’m here in sunny North Brooklyn, my heart in pieces across the continental United States, South Africa, and Austria. My studio looks out south towards downtown Brooklyn, and I can see a conveyor belt, thoroughfare of cool guys. I just returned from an assignment writing about the restoration of the Florida Everglades, water management, and the algae blooms along the east coast. It was much quieter there. I’m planning to go to the Hermitage Artist Retreat later this year in southwest Florida that I’m so so grateful for.
SM: Why are you?
MA: I was hoping you would help me with this? I grew up in the South, and I wasn’t interested let alone aware of Art or Literature or any thing like that, but I spent most of my time skating, surfing, and those things bled over. I didn’t have plans to attend college, but after some time away, I came back to community college and one thing led to another. Never did I think I would be making photographs and writing about things.
SM: There is a lot of visual information in your project, Cracker Politics, The Limits of Colonial Knowledge. That information is disseminated rather than analyzed and it seems, the presentation of that information is as much of the process as the making of the photographs. In short, what and how is more important than why. Would you share a bit about photography’s ability to propagate information and how you’ve gone about gathering content for Cracker Politics, The Limits of Colonial Knowledge?
MA: Well, I’d personally avoid the academic denominator of polysyllabic descriptors, but I see what you’re parting hairs about. To that, I would just say that the dissemination of an image and how that’s looked at is very much analyzing it. Moreover, yes, the presentation of information is paramount. The difference between the Atlas works and the more abstract photographs in Cracker Politics call to mind that difference between specificity and banal platitudes. And to that point, what I see as granular detail, narrative, and specificity ultimately become increasingly abstract. We like to project onto a photograph. We feel compelled to find narrative in what we see, even if a still life.
In the Atlas works, I wanted to take found photographs, archival documents, collected information from a wide breadth of sources, texts, quotidian souvenirs, postcards, notes, my own photographs, video-stills, and research together as a photograph. I wanted to show all the parts that may go into making a photograph. And concurrently, I want more poetic, prosy, open photographs which counter how explicit the Atlas works are. Those photographs are more about the implicit slippage rich in southern culture.