Jun 10, 2020
Oswald is a French photographer mainly inspired by cinema who also enjoys experimenting and trying new things. In his series 'Iran', Oswald explores the mysteries, richness and complexity of former Persia, away from any political discourse. Loaded with an old soviet analogue camera, Oswald travelled along the country producing lo-fi enticing images that greatly reflect the poetry of the land and make us wonder about the history of this place and the stories of the photographer's journey.
am - First of all thank you very much for your contribution to our project. Can you please introduce yourself for us?
OW - My name is Oswald Wittower, I am a French artist and was living in Japan until recently, but had to come back to France temporarily. So right now this is where I am, waiting for the world to open again in order to move to Taiwan, a country I’m really fond of. I studied communication in college and had a very brief stay in an art school is Brussels at some point, which I quit very quickly. I would say that in general, I’m not really made for studies, I’m very independent and would rather do and learn my own things by myself or at least not in a school context. I have no idea this is rather a good or a bad thing, but that’s just how it is. So, I do photography, video and writings, and I also have this foolish hope to get into music during this upcoming decade.
am - How did you start in photography?
OW - I started photography when I was about nineteen, which is when I started to do and think about it more seriously. Even though, with hindsight, my photographs from back then were absolutely terrible, I guess I progressively learned from my mistakes and failures. My general motto has always been – even then – to experiment as much as I can, and I feel I still have so much to learn and try, so many new things to venture in.
am - What is 'Iran' about?
OW - 'Iran' is about the attraction I feel to this country. I think that Iran – previously, Persia - is a land of mysteries, with a complex, rich and spellbinding story that holds many faces and legends. I could have focused on people, but instead – and maybe because of this old heavy soviet analog camera I brought with me – I decided to portray the timeless feeling that lives in the cities, in the ruins, the plinth that gives shape and holds this society.
am - What inspires your work?
OW - It’s hard to say what really inspires my work, because it’s potentially anything, but I can tell you what does not inspire it: politics, the concreteness of society. Nowadays – and especially in western societies – it feels like everything, every work of art has to hold some kind of political value to just be able to exist, to – maybe – have some kind of sense. I strongly disagree with that – not that I’m against those pictures, those works and ideas – but it’s just not what I want to do and show to people. I think a lot about the idea of “reality”, or should I say “realities” since they are basically infinite. What is fiercely unreal to someone can be the truth for someone else, and many people seem to ignore this. So I guess I work and deal with my peculiar ideas of realities, and this maybe also answers the question about my Iran series: I did not want to show it in a political way at all, instead I’d rather elusively show it as a mysterious fantasy.
am - Who are your favourite photographers / artists?
OW - I’m a big cinephile, so I would say that my work in general is definitely more inspired by movies and directors than photographers. Nevertheless, I profoundly love the work of Joel-Peter Witkin and Daisuke Yokota. Their works are obviously very different from each other, but they both inspire and genuinely move me. As for movie directors, I love many of them: Wong Kar-Wai, Mikio Naruse, Yasujiro Ozu, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Sogo Ishii, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Kim Ki-Duk, Lars Von Trier, David Lynch, Peter Greenaway, etc, etc…
am - What is your favourite movie?
OW - My absolute favorite movie is 'Koyaanisqatsi' by Godfrey Reggio. I think it’s, objectively, the only perfect and untouchable movie I’ve ever and will ever watch. I had the chance to watch in its 4K version on a huge movie theater screen two years ago, that was just phenomenal.
am - What is your favourite photo book?
OW - My favorite photo book is maybe 'Back Yard' by Daisuke Yokota. I’m not a collector, but if I ever become one, I would love to get all of his photography books.
am - Thank you very much for your time and your contribution to analog magazine.
All images © Oswald Wittower