Max de Esteban’s three-part series, Elegies of Manumission, is currently being featured in a one-person exhibition at the Central European House of Photography in Bratislava, Slovakia. The show includes selections from de Esteban’s three most recent projects: Vertige, Private Utopias and On the uncertainty of being.
Each body of work uses portraiture to address seemingly disparate questions, which are, in fact, connected by common challenges.
Vertige is populated by images of pierced and sometimes heavily tattooed men and women, which, as de Esteban summarizes, “investigates doubt as an ethical stance in an increasingly, radicalized, single ideological world”.
Behind each of the subjects are hand-written excerpts from the 1964 book by twentieth century Romanian philosopher E.M.Cioran, La chute dans le temps. Additionally, each of the portraits is subtitled with another, specific excerpt from the book.
Private Utopias, the artist’s second project, explores how contemporary artists are represented. The work depicts twenty artists of varying ages, who de Esteban instructed to dress in outfits that they believed best represented their personality.
In homage to Julia Margaret Cameron’s earlier photographic series of artists and intellectuals, Private Utopias rephrases her vision of the role of the cultural producer and questions what the artist should look like today.
Most artists, de Esteban says, openly express sentiments of marginality and neglect. “But more profound is their loss of faith in art as a vehicle for society’s progress”.
On the uncertainty of being, the artist’s third project, is an exploration of the image of today’s youth. The twenty-eight subjects were photographed in the nude, de Esteban says, “to avoid referential interferences as a means to escape from the imagery that positions youth as the center point of our most private desires.”
The exhibition, which opened 4 July, will be on view through 2 September. Proposition One, de Esteban’s previous body of work, will be on exhibit at the Festival de la Luz in Argentina beginning 1 August.