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Dead or Alive (English Translation)

By Paulo Lina, December 21, 2011


A well known photographer from New York equipped with X-Ray material discovers, in the state of Pará in Brazil, evidence of important questions which are of relevance today. Sometimes we find ourselves with an interesting perspective seen from the eyes of someone coming from a different culture. Someone who is able to see from outside references that make us take a clearer look and realize we’ve discovered something that’s been right under our noses. The American photographer Steve Miller has for decades a solid career, with exhibitions around the world and important publications regarding his work. However, since 2007 he left behind the glamorous streets of New York where he was born and lives, to spend time in Pará, Brazil and to observe wildlife which to him is even more glamorous.

Photographing animals with X-Ray equipment brings to our attention a sort of “interior beauty”, from extremely complex structures found in nature and the animal world, with designs impossible to be recreated by the most talented of designers. Flesh and bone, vertebrae, scales, skins, both soft and hard structure make up a moveable and flexible world which comes to life. For example, the piranhas you see on the next page. Individual fish that come from a shoal of fish, immersed in the context of their existence, killing to live, escaping from being eaten and to accomplish the natural function of cleaning the river in order to maintain a certain ecological equilibrium.

In the exhibition displayed through January 28th at the Tempo Gallery in Rio de Janeiro, one also can see, in contrast to the beautiful X-Ray images of wildlife, images less complicated in designs created by the human mind, however paradoxically, more valued by the majority of society than the complex and unreproducible organisms. Handbags, watches, belts, wallets, shoes and other luxury items which are considered incontestably what is known as “status symbols”, created and manufactured for the enchantment of the consumer.

If one can imagine that one of the principal purposes of art is to divert us from the ordinary, and transport us to a world which connects us to something diverse and detached from the materialistic, I believe Steve Miller can be considered a great artist.

Miller was one of the first artists to experiment with computers in the early ’80’s. With more than 30 years as an artist and no less than 33 solo exhibitions, Miller affirms that the images shown at Tempo Gallery in Copacabana, reflect the interdependency between all that exist and the beauty and complexity of the world. All very simple of course!

ISTOÉ Magazine