Vason truly collaborates with his performance colleagues. His work debunks the traditional binary of photographer/model, and instead gives equal creative agency to each individual participating in the experiment. By framing Vason’s images as a truly collective, democratic work, viewers are encouraged to unpack complicated issues of authorship, ownership, credit, and criticism.
– Guillermo Gómez-Peña, performance artist
Photography stages what it records; and subjects perform on that stage. In this age of the complicit auto-branding of the ‘Selfie’, it’s a relief to be reminded that the self and the camera are less knowable than we might think. In this book Manuel Vason’s collaborative photographs along with a range of nimble writers reopen for us all the uncertainties and possibilities, the trapdoors and escape hatches that make the self and the camera such wild companions.
– David Campany, writer, curator and artist
The historical relationship between photography and performance is complex and fraught. Initially, photographs of performers were portraits. Later, photography became the primary means of documenting performances, thus allowing them to exist beyond the evanescent moment. In such cases, the photograph is often considered as a secondary text, a reproduction of an “original” event. But photography has also emerged as a space in which performances can take place, and there is now a substantial history of photographs that document performances that happened only in the photograph itself.
Manuel Vason is clearly aware of the many forms the relationship between photography and performance has taken, and his work is informed by all of them. Indeed, he refuses to allow his work to fall into one or another of the received categories but stakes out territories on the borderlines between them. Distinctive to his work, besides the ability to produce ravishing images, is the fact that his photographs do not self-effacingly document other artists’ performances but are themselves collaborative works. Double Exposures is his latest venture along these lines, a project that sees him working in new ways with performers with whom he has collaborated before, and emerging from behind the camera to appear as a performer himself.
– Philip Auslander – Professor at School of Literature, Media, and Communication, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia, USA
Vason’s collaborative photographs are invitations— communicative acts that call on us to pursue intersubjective relations with alterity. Viewers are enjoined to move beyond themselves – beyond a libidinal imaginary stripped by mass media — towards singular formations. Through their bold performativity and publication, the singularities constellated nonetheless posit and indeed create community.
– Jonathan Beller – Professor, Humanities and Media Studies, Pratt Institute, New York, USA
Bliss I had not seen Michael Mayhew since the mid 1980s. That was my loss, not his. Until opening Manuel Vason’s luscious Double Exposures that is. He looks younger, but is still on fire. He had played one of the arsonists for me, beautifully, in Max Frisch’s prescient play, The Fireraisers, back then. And now, he reaches out towards me, as I turn the page, and then turn back. The apparatus of the camera, in Manuel’s hands, has been lying in wait, in preparation for this moment (apparare: to prepare). Vilem Flusser would have us believe, in his philosophy of photography, that the apparatus ‘sharpens its teeth’ in readiness for photography. Well here it has sprung. And from a death mask Michael faces up to us from the grass, in bliss.
–Alan Read – Director Performance Foundation, Professor of Theatre, King’s College London, UK
Vason’s pieces are arguably both photograph and performance, asking us to engage a photograph not only as a record of a performance, but as the performance itself
– Rebecca Schneider, Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, Professor of History of Art and Architecture at Brown University, USA
Manuel Vason’s startling and stylised images, powerfully reproduced in Encounters, violently force bodily abjection into the arena of the sublime. Not since the era of Caravaggio and Bernini has pain been so exquisitely and beautifully rendered – here, through Vason’s capacity to connect, via a red-hot wire of aesthetic reduction, to bodies that wield and convey it.
– Amelia Jones – Professor in Art and Design and Vice-Dean of Critical Studies at the Roski School of Art and Design
Manuel Vason’s images exist somewhere between portraiture, performance documentation, and documentary – or, perhaps, his images are fashion shots, but the bodies are clothed in performance.
– Tracey Warr – Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art History and Theory at Oxford Brookes University
A recurring theme in the collaborators’ texts is their trust of Vason. They compliment his integrity, fidelity, and commitment to the joint project. The recurrent emphasis of trust belies the generalized anxiety in culture about photography and a specifically live-art-based anti-materialist dismissal of documentation.
– Laurie Beth Clark, Encounters review, Contemporary Theatre Review, 2008
A treasure trove of iconoclastic images that serve as a body of evidence for an extraordinary yet often elusive area of practice
– Lois Keidan, Director, Live Art Development Agency , London
Vason originally came to the world of performance as an ingénue, almost completely unfamiliar with the live art territory, stunned by these odd bodies in extreme contexts, bewitched by the unspeakable and the seemingly unrecordable. And it’s this challenge that propels Vason’s own practice forward as he takes some serious time to get to know his subjects: discussing their work at length, going on little adventures, repeatedly shooting the breeze before shooting a single frame.
– Tim Attack review of Encounters exhibition on RealTime, 2007
Manuel Vason is to Performance Art what Robert Capa is to war photography.
– Franko B – Artist
I have came away feeling enthused and invigorated, both artistically and critically, with a shifted awareness and sensitivity to image making, whether for camera or for live work.
– Paul Carter – Artist