Javier Hirschfeld-Moreno – Sheltering Pixels
Javier Hirschfeld-Moreno is a Spanish London based photographer working between Paris/London and Malaga. He’s working around the questions about the profligacy of image against consuming images… A new notion born with social media giving back privacy to communities. By introducing pixels he confers identity and protection at the same time.
We decided to present to you more about who is behind this amazing work.
Interview by Adrien – July 2020
A Where do you come from ?
Malaga Spain, I grew up at Plaza de la Merced (which is also Picasso’s birthplace).
Could you share with us your first creative moment?
I don’t remember a single first moment. The creative process has always been with me since I have memories, I was lucky to be supported and encouraged by my aunt Matilde, with whom I started painting, always abstract (I only started figurative with photography in my teens).
When did you move to London? And why?
I first moved to London when I was 24. After a week-long holiday in the city I decided to live there. My dream was to work at Tate Modern (doing anything!). After a few years in a Bangladeshi and a Scandinavian TV, I ended up working as the Photo Editor at BBC. It was an amazing job, in a creative and ethical media company, which let me grow and study Art History at Birkbeck. It was then when I started developing my own artistic and curatorial projects.
How did this cultural experience between Spain UK and France influence you?
Spain is, regardless of where I am, my pivotal point, and the base of both my photographic training and the ethics of my practice. The UK helped me to open up to different approaches, cultures. But it was working in Dakar, Senegal, what really made a difference to me. It was there, through different periods, where I started realizing how little I knew, how narrow was the concept of “the” Art History. The works of Seydou Keita, Malick Sidibe, Fosso, conversations with artists such as Omar Victor Diop or other people I met, and time to reflect are key for the development of my work.
How did you discover photography? And also when did you start to work and edit them?
At 15 or so I embraced photography, abstract in the darkroom with my cousin Joaquin, and then went full figurative focusing on portraiture. Collective and individual identity, through the many and different approaches that contemporary portraiture photography allows, is the main focus of my interest as a curator and as an artist. From my earlier projects, there is a process of detachment from the conventional photography about ‘what is there’, through staged photography, to the more abstract The Sheltering Pixel – a project more about ‘what is no there’, ‘what shouldn’t be there’, or perhaps ‘what I should expose there’.
The pixelization was just a tool to make visible a reflection about the different ways to represent one and the others, how we often behave differently here and there. The pixel is the minimum element in the photographic digital image, when small it makes it visible. When big, it conceals. Applying it to my work as a way of self-censorship, self-iconoclastic, denying my photographer self-access to everything.
I read that you are hiding faces to give them back privacy. Do you think in our nowadays society we are overexposed?
In comparative historical terms, we are obviously more exposed than ever. The pixel project, however, did not focus on overexposure, but rather the right of self-exposure, self-representation. The project I am working at the moment does reflect on overexposure that is also invisibilizing us.
Which artists inspired you?
I got into ‘the arts’ by watching Almodovar films, later I was struck by Caravaggio’s lights, and especially all the shades and shadows. Recently I inspired by the likes of David Wojnarowiz, Peter Hujar, or Joan Foncuberta.
Could you tell us more about The sheltering Pixel? How did the project start?
It started with the picture of ‘Abu’. It was a beautiful portrait, with very soft and beautiful lighting matching Abu’s face and his cute pink hat. I wanted to print that photo and show it, perhaps share it on Facebook. But then I thought that I would never publish a photo of a child I took in Spain or the UK, and if I did I would pixelate the child’s face to protect the identity. It led me to play with the image, and the pixel, making it big, obvious, brutal. Denying myself the right to take (and display) everything, as we, white Europeans are used to.
Where do you shoot these portraits?
All images were taken in my first time in Senegal, they are often sons of friends, boys at the football school I collaborated with, and so on.
What is your next project?
My next project is perhaps the most personal. It’s a project about representations, portraiture, and dissidence of the burden of constant self-representation.
How social media help you as a photographer?
It helps spread your work, ideas and to see amazing stuff being done elsewhere. Just don’t spend too long.
Courtesy of the artist – 2020