Week 4 Picture Stories Research: Alex Fakso

Alex Fakso was born in Italy in 1977. His career started in the 90’s, photographing graffiti and skateboards. He works with analog and digital, both colour and black and white. His work has been published in magazines including “Rolling Stone”, “Vice”, “Xplicit Grafx”, “Bomber”, and “Corriere della Sera”. In the last few years, he has spent most of his time photographing in and around Europe, and his work has one purpose: to help us learn.

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His project “Heavy Metal” is about graffiti artists “tagging” public transport around Italy. He started this project when, as he is a graffiti artist himself, he got bored with simply photographing himself. Heavy Metal has been published into a photobook, and at the beginning Fakso writes “this book is dedicated to all the people who have spent a part of their lives illegally painting the metal of 20th century caravans”.”

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Although this culture is normally very underground and private, Fakso was allowed “unprecedented” access to the nightly antics of these artists. Each photograph conveys the compelling sense of risk and adventure with which the artist approaches his work, whether entering into a shadowy train yard or negotiating a high fence to do so. The project is a mixture of colour and black and white, which I feel is a unique take on an underground culture such as this. On one hand, one would think a photographer would go down the black and white route all the way through due to the secretive nature of what he is photographing, along with him photographing at night; black and white almost fits with the illegal dark “crime” of which he is documenting. However, the colour adds to the idea that it is in fact art which he is photographing, and I feel that the use of colour humanises these people.

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Most of the colour images in this project have a red tint to them, suggesting that there is a sparse use of flash on these images; that street lights are the main source of light. Alternatively, flash may be present and has been bounced off of painted/rusty (being metal) surfaces, creating this red effect. I like the use of colour in these images as although they are not deep dark colours, they still represent that this is an underground culture and the colours draw you in to what is going on. Also, I like his use of slow shutter speeds in these images, as I personally feel this gives the image more truth – he’s photographing what is happening, there and then.

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Sources:
– Fakso, A. (2006), Heavy Metal. Italy: Damiani Editore.
– https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heavy-Metal-Alex-Fakso/dp/8889431490
– http://www.fakso.com/store/
– https://www.colab-gallery.com/en/507/Alex-Fakso

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