Milan – “LOST IN HOLLYWOOD” the first solo show in Italy of the German artist, of American adoption, Michael Dressel, will be inaugurated on October 15 2021at c | e contemporary.
The artist’s life seems to be the perfect plot of a compelling book, born in 1958 behind the Iron Curtain of East Berlin, after completing his compulsory military service, he began attending East Berlin University of the Arts studying scenography. The reality in which he lives, however, is so overwhelming that he tries to escape from the so-called “Paradise of workers and farmers” by climbing beyond the WALL. Unfortunately, the escape fails and he is sent to prison for 2 years, an experience that Dressel considers the most formative of his life. After long struggles in 1984 he arrived in West Berlin working as a taxi driver until he landed, after some travels around the world, in Los Angeles where he worked as a sound engineer in the glossy Hollywood world that led him to become a member of the Oscar Academy.
However, the series on show does not focus on the Hollywood we know, the quintessential symbol of the entertainment world, made up of excesses, fame and cover lives but places the excluded from this world at the center of the image, arrived in this place full of dreams and ambitions that they have never managed to conquer. Many of the characters that the artist meets on the streets of Los Angeles arrive in this city full of expectations and ready to change their lives only to be trapped in this fictional reality. In Dressel’s photos we find portraits of beggars whose condition of poverty is proof of the failure of our society in which the richest 1% owns twice as much as 90% of the world’s population. The gap between rich and poor is obviously present in many metropolises but in Los Angeles it is particularly inclement. Among the protagonists of Dressel’s continuous flow of images we find many aspiring actors who wear their grotesque outfits following the Hollywood roles. For a few dollars they pose with tourists near Hollywood Boulevard better known as the Walk of Fame to be able to buy something to eat. It seems that, despite this frustrating life that has not granted them anything, they continue to aspire to the American dream that appears so chimerical to us Europeans, as if they were unable to move away from the gravity field of the “Dream Factories”.
Dressel lived for over 30 years in Los Angeles, joined the company working in the field of sound editing for films, but continued to maintain his outsider’s perspective on this faux-glamorous slice of the world made up mostly of appearances. .
Dressel’s photographs show us the great empathy with which the photographer portrays the subjects of his works. Thanks to his close point of view, he drags us in front of some realities in which the viewer often feels embarrassed in accepting the characters. We repeat to ourselves that we look away to respect their lives but often this reaction is the result of a lack of courage in facing the world in which we live. We are so used to our comfortable existence and our privileges that we feel uncomfortable in front of the scenes depicted by the artist, we are convinced that our annoyance is the result of our sensitivity towards these topics but, in most cases, we are not used to it. to dwell on these aspects of life, it is easier to pretend that they do not concern us than to face the fact that we live in a world characterized by enormous social and economic inequalities in which the most cowardly attitude is precisely to look away. Dressel manages to portray the so-called outsiders of society without diminishing them but giving them dignity through a human approach, dialoguing with them and treating them for what they are: PEOPLE.
The photographer does not hesitate in front of scenes that are disturbing or distressing to most of the population, he portrays them capturing the moment in all its authenticity. At first glance it is obviously the strength of the main subject that strikes us, but analyzing the surrounding context he realizes that the space often presents visual clues. As in the photo of an exhausted homeless man in a wheelchair behind a pole on which stands the words JESUS, THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIFE which could test even the most fervent of believers, or the image of a old woman with a dejected look posing in front of the word WOMAN POWER.
The artist’s work is a paraphrase of STREET PHOTOGRAPHY, being in the right place at the right time capturing reality in all its unfiltered brutality and placing it in front of the observer in a crude way to provoke a reaction and reflection that pushes us to confront ourselves with a truth difficult to accept.
The photographs of him, however crude, are not cynical but rather symbolic because they do not concern only the disparities between rich and poor but rather the impotence of man in the face of catastrophes of various kinds that could overwhelm anyone’s life from moment to moment. other.
Other shots are instead populated by Catwoman, Batman, women in kitsch bikinis decorated with the American flag, Drag Queens who casually stroll down the street as if they were at an audition in which they hope to be noticed by a casting agent or hunk. big Hollywood. On Hollywood Boulevard with its Walk of Fame you can see an endless parade of tragic, absurd, comic and sometimes dangerous situations. The reality encountered in these contexts has little to do with the glamorous image of Los Angeles projected around the world and allows for an in-depth view of the real condition of society and its inhabitants. This discrepancy reminds the artist of his youth in East Berlin where propaganda described an idyllic world very far from the life lived by the population at that time. The photographic medium allows Dressel to meet and interact with people from different social backgrounds, ethnicities and origins whose stories for the artist become more and more enigmatic, interesting and worthy of being told every day.
LOST IN HOLLYWOOD is an exhibition with a great emotional charge that will give you the opportunity to question yourself. In the artist’s shots, the distance from the subject is so close that it will cause you to feel an almost embarrassing intimacy. The photographs on display are not just works of art but sections of reality on which attention must be fixed.
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