Believe - Talking Pictures


Talking Pictures online • 27 May - 22 June

24hrs daily
Boris Eldagsen - Tomoko Sawada - Michelle Rogers Pritzl

Auckland Festival of Photography and Talking Pictures share these selected articles on the 'Believe' theme online.

Talking Pictures is a website brings together edited interviews with photographers and photo-festival directors around the world, founded by Alasdair Foster, Australia.


This year’s winner of the creative open section of the world’s largest photographic competition was won by an enigmatic portrait by the German artist Boris Eldagsen. It is remarkable for two reasons: the young women and her shy companion never existed… and this is not a photograph. The image was created by the artist using an Artificial Intelligence (AI) image-generation system called DALL E2. In recent months, the image-generating capabilities of AI have grown exponentially, as has the uptake in using this form of image creation by amateur and professional alike. The winning of this award highlights some fundamental questions that have wide-reaching implications. When does something that looks like a photograph stop being a photograph? When it stops being a photograph what is it? How do we parse this new visual language? And what impact will this have on photography itself? To explore these issues in greater depth, I reached out to Boris Eldagsen to find out more about how an image created using AI came to win a major photographic award and what he sees as the future of AI images that look like photographs. You can read that interview at Talking Pictures.


The Japanese artist Tomoko Sawada has taken the practice of self-photography to a new level, mapping a fascinating circularity in which we find ourselves complicit. Her images draw on conventions embedded in the rituals of the everyday: the photo-booth, the class portrait, the high-street studio, the job-applicant’s mugshot. Each emphasises this embeddedness through repetition. Not one example but many. And in every iteration the artist is the sole subject, present yet absent. A kind of cipher – both a puzzle and a zero. The sheer diversity she achieves makes it hard to believe that each is performed by the same person. The characteristics of the fictive figures are so persuasive one feels one can imagine a backstory for each. They constitute a double typology: of the social conventions of photography and the way in which, amid the throng of urban living, we tend to categorise others through a kind of shorthand. Tomoko Sawada discusses the process by which the one becomes the many at Talking Pictures


Not all prisons have walls and not all shackles have chains. Harassment and the threat of humiliation can confine the liberty of an individual just as much as stone and steel. This is particularly true in closed, inwardly focused groups that isolate themselves from the heterogeneity of the wider society. In her work, the artist Michelle Rogers Pritzl creates a poetic visualisation of her experiences of growing up in a fundamentalist religious community and the psychological trauma that resulted. The indoctrination to which she was subjected was intended to shape and control her free will, to enthral her to a god made in the image of men, and ensure her unquestioning obedience to the men in whose image that god was shaped. Blending the nineteenth-century tintype process and digital photography she evokes a dark, anachronistic world of fear, guilt and coercion and the crippled sense of self that it engendered. Michelle Rogers Pritzl speaks about the processes of artmaking that helped her escape this patriarchal fundamentalism at Talking Pictures.

Image caption: Boris Eldagsen ‘The Electrician’ 2022 from the series ‘Pseudomnesia’ (c)

The Electrician 2022 from the series ‘Pseudomnesia’ (c), Boris Eldagsen

Image caption: Tomoko Sawada ‘School Days/A’ from the series ‘School Days’ 2004

School Days/A from the series ‘School Days’ 2004, Tomoko Sawada

Image caption: Michelle Rogers Pritzl ‘The Consequences of an Extensive Breach’ 2013 from the series ‘Soma’

The Consequences of an Extensive Breach 2013 from the series ‘Soma’, Michelle Rogers Pritzl

Talking Pictures

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