Antoine d’Agata MAGNUM Photographer
Born in Marseille, Antoine d’Agata left France in 1983 and remained overseas for the next ten years. Finding himself in New York in 1990, he pursued an interest in photography by taking courses at the International Center of Photography, where his teachers included Larry Clark and Nan Goldin. For his first books of photographs, De Mala Muerte and Male Noche, d’Agata travelled the world to document characters of the night’s further edges: prostitutes, addicts, war-torn communities and homeless. The books were published in 1998. In 2001, he published Hometown and won the Niépce Prize for young photographers. Compiling intimate and provocative images, the book focused on his travels in France and personal journey. Traveling around the world, documenting his personal experiences and encounters, d’Agata continued to publish regularly: Vortex and Insomnia appeared in 2003, accompanying his exhibition 1001 Nuits, which opened in Paris in September. His latest book, CODEX, Mexico 1986 – 2016 was published in 2017 by Editorial RM.
Antoine d’Agata is a Magnum Photographer who explores the world of drugs, sex, fear and addiction. For many people his work is controversial partly due to the subject matter and the fact many might perceive that he is exploiting vulnerable people on the fringe. Antoine explains it differently that he is photographing people that he has got to know from the world of night and he is opening a door on this world with the agreement of all participants. This is a world where Antoine frees himself from thinking entering a state of flow. In many cases he is no longer the photographer instead asking others to take photographs of himself and the women in his life.
Antoine created a short video of the images which he shows. There is a continuous beat to the music it reminds me of a heart beat that is raised drawing us into the visual experience. Image of sex and drugs are interleaved. Sometimes single images other times there are 60 or 100 images as strips on a page.
Antoine talks about his work in terms of night and day. He has a desire not to contaminate his work with the experience. He immerses himself into the world of night when making work. He describes the creation of books as a way for moving forward. (Reflection: I feel this is a short of unloading of experiences, to free his mind to allow immerse himself into a new set of experiences where he pushes himself to the boundary and maybe sometimes beyond.)
He reflects that photography helps define your position in life. Photography is exciting due to the development of new techniques yet it is dangerous because of the ways it is used. The night world is free of controls while the day is more frightening because of the way images are being controlled similar to the way people have been controlled by religion or politics or economy.
He recognises that he has become associated with blurred images as result of the techniques and strategies used to capture the images. Now he is looking to transform his image making to react again those old strategies, developing new strategies that allow him to capture the intensity of the dark side of the world.
He views his work is a challenge to society and the overall system:
- Girls are speaking about their life of sex, drugs, violence, self harm.
- The work has helped some of the girls to step out of the night world
- He has published 45 books yet each book has been published with different publishers.
- He exhibits concern that others in the industry, publishers, agents, editors are exploiting photographers.
- He says that photographers should look to use the system and not get used by the system. Generally he feels we give up too much to get into the system.