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Exploring the Animate and the Artificial with Photographer Micaela Mau

Updated: Nov 29, 2019

For issue #5, Mythology, Radical Art Review presents German-Italian photographer Micaela Mau, showcasing her three projects Spectra, Per Speculum, and Lacrimae Rerum.

In the series Spectra, Mau makes use of something commonly found in secondhand markets - prints of old family photographs. Piled in boxes to sift through, Mau describes these displaced materials of memory as ‘orphaned pictures’. Through appropriating and layering these photographs into new compositions, Mau highlights the way they fade and merge with time, revealing their anonymity and their proximity to slipping out of the world unnoticed.

The figures in Mau’s work exist in a space between being dead and alive.

The stories of the people seen in Spectra were lived – captured and immortalised at a glimpse of time with the camera. As the photographs lost their way, these realities become lost too, re-emerging as figments of stranger’s imaginations.

Mau continues to explore the camera’s relationship with mortality and reality in Lacrimae Rerum and Per Speculum, where she scrutinises reproduced depictions of life in the museum. With a reference to the myth of Pygmalion, Lacrimae Rerum uses the camera to animate classical statues, through a thoughtful approach to tonality and composition. With the trickery of the camera, these crumbling marble forms seem to express a curious energy.

In Per Speculum, Mau photographs the contents of the display at the natural history museum. This time, she utilises the reflections of their glass enclosure to remind us of their artificiality. These works raise questions about the immortal objects responsible for narrating life. Using the camera to reveal a vitality in inanimate objects, Mau’s photographs mystify the real and animate the artificial.


To see more of Micaela's work, or to contact her, visit:

Feature written by Megan Daly.


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