Analog spiritualist. Crumbling cities and strange places. Jon Michael Anzalone works independently on stories of personal interest and significance, carrying out well-studied, politically mature,...
I am very excited to finally share my longform photoessay in Uzbekistan. This work took a long time to create, not just from the time since April that it took to shoot, edit, and sequence, but also in the time it took to wholly conceptualize it. Ten years since I started thinking about traveling and shooting a project here, and that time that it was inside me factors in to the final project. Time spent dreaming about a place. And then at last be there, and have the memories start to fill the emotional space where the dreams resided.
This is Uzbekistan in eight dreams. Some bold and fully formed, some vague and difficult to recall.
As television drones who couldn't find Uzbekistan on a map pose themselves as experts I have a volume of unpublished photography from this past May, which I am happy to license for use in work that denies the ignorant narratives that emerge from reactionary media.
A few photos in the link below, and I have more upon request. Work in black and white, and in color, from Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, and Nurata Mountains.
Photo above: Child chases a balloon in the courtyard of a family home in Old Tashkent; in the foreground her family prays.
Thank you to editor Scott Thode, and thank you to Visura for creating the opportunity for editorial consultations. This was an outstanding chance to really talk and ask questions about how to better share my work, and how to try to advance myself.
I've got a lot to think about and a lot to work on, and I'll hope you'll like what I have to contribute.
I have just shared a ten image preview of my new project, Orzu Bazaar, which I shot this past April/May in Uzbekistan. The project is currently in editor's exclusive privacy settings, so if you are an editor on Visura and interested in a first look, please check it out.
In 2011, I was interviewed about my photography project, Khamra Obscura, by a reporter for Today's Zaman newspaper, an English-language daily from Turkey. The article was not published. I had forgotten that I did this text interview that he sourced for the article. I recently discovered it saved on my computer.
During a long, affecting political cycle, everyone has something to say about their viewpoints and reaction to things being said and done around us. We may find ourselves in a position when shooting that we feel we have a responsibility to create something beyond a topical critique or polemic, or to be too "on the nose" when choosing scenes and imagery to express ideas. It's easy to fall into the trap of cliches and "meme" but I think it isn't productive to throw work into the churn of media-cycle work, where the morning's outrages are intolerably boring by the afternoon.
In 2016, creating new personal work, I wanted to shoot a meaningful reaction to the year, and I wanted to shoot in America. I've seen a lot of good work about Rust Belt "Trump Towns" or the independent spirit of Bernie Sanders rallies, but I don't shoot that way, and I don't have any grand contribution to the pool of work that could stand out beyond what was being created.
So then, I consider my new photoessay, NO LAWS, to be an "ambient reaction" to the year. In a few scattered moments that correspond to significant political moments in the year (March, October, New Year's Eve), and two journeys (Montana, and Costa Rica), I shot work that expressed what I was feeling and seeing without ever addressing the subject matter directly. Montana, I considered to be part of an American soul--the freedom, libertarianism, of the West. Costa Rica is a personal locale, where my parents now live. Or, together, even though the locations bear little tangible relation, the connection of an American's soul to America's soul, versus expatriation and untethering from country. My home, where the family I grew up with no longer lives, and not my home, which in my parents' domicile in an unfamiliar place is filled with the iconography and memory of my youth.
I think, as a whole, it creates a message in the negative space of what it chooses to express directly, and what it chooses to not express. It is produced by an ambient reaction, or a way of looking closely at something without looking directly at it.
After a long year, I'm happy to announce my 2016 work is now complete. "NO LAWS" is a long read, slow burn photoessay shot in Southwest Montana, Costa Rica, Pennsylvania, and New York.
It is presented in three moments, two journeys, and one diary. Shot over the course of a year, it is a love letter to America and a divorce from it. It is not a work I expected to create, but this is my document.
Just came back from a one week trip shooting. For the first time, I went somewhere that had very few people present. What a challenge, trying to adapt and create imagery without having human presence with which to relate the elements. Now I'm in the midst of processing and scanning -- we'll see!
It's been a while. It feels likes interminable since I picked up a camera, or since the last project in Armenia. This year has been so overwhelmed with political anxiety and stresses, and I've constantly felt this need to leave and get a break for a few weeks. But every time I planned a destination, I felt this welling of stress and unplanned it.
But now I've got something in the works. It seems so natural now: the location, the idea. And that mist of dreams, inspirations, names of towns and mountains, has started to form.
Some hints in here--but the rest is a secret. Shooting something new next month. We'll see how it goes.
Thank you the Moscow International Foto Awards for recognizing my 2015 photo essay, Ayb. This project is a true culmination of the momentum I put into developing my form and analytics, and I am proud to see it earn this attention.
I hope you'll see the project here on visura or my website (a summary portfolio of photos), but also see and read the long form piece on exposure.
I've just opened up my site's web store using Visura's new Product Page in the Site Manager.
This has been something I've wrestled with for a while. When you have a lot work to choose from, how do you make it available without having so much that a potential customer doesn't get overwhelmed, or scroll so fast through a block of images that they don't stop to look at anything?
My solution was to create a "Permanent Collection," something of a portfolio for sales, and a smaller "Series," which I will change and rotate on a new theme periodically.
I'm using the "Masonry" layout on the Permanent Collection, since it lets me show more images in less space in an eye-catching way, and the "Clean List" layout on the Series, since it has room to let the images breathe, with a text area to describe the work and how it fits into the curation.
This strategy lets me keep my most sellable images up for sale but also highlight more subtle work. I can create demand for the Series images based on a limited availability timeframe. Not only that, but with a revolving updated series, I will be able to drive traffic to my site and my store with announcements of a new Series collection. This should help me avoid sounding like a broken record putting the same work on blast to the same audience. Hopefully it works out!
The fourth, final section of my work in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, Ayb, discusses the political postures of the states and organizations surrounding Armenia's two main challenges: seeking recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey; and its contested occupation, or liberation, of the region of Artsakh which is politically recognized as part of Azerbaijan. Reflecting on the project's greater theme of family, I explore the strength of brotherhood and its ability to transcend power structures.
I'm excited today to share the first (of four) parts of my newest photography project, Ayb, which I shot in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh this past April.
Ayb explores Armenia during its Genocide Centennial commemorations, from the perspective as a new husband seeking to understand the history and culture that I will need to honor and shepherd for my future family. The work travels through ancient histories, religious ceremonies and memorials, recent conflicts, and war as I come to terms with everything from a humanist perspective.
The first section, Amousin, is about arrival in Armenia and understanding who I am and who I can be in this story.
The next sections, to be released in the coming weeks, discuss the Genocide Centennial observations in their many forms, Nagorno-Karabakh and the strangeness of de jure statehood and de facto military occupation, and the political conflicts between Armenia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan.
Hello, Visura community. My name is Jon Michael Anzalone. I am an analog photographer from Queens, NY. I shoot personal/emotional/political explorations of places. I'm looking forward to sharing my work with you and I hope that you will enjoy it.