Miron Zownir’s photographs follow in the tradition of Diane Arbus, they are a hard, sharp, uncompromising look into the darker fringes of society, an unflinching document of reality, of our deepest desires. From the start of his career in Berlin Zownir has been exploring social criticism and taboo-breaking issues whether it be the punk scene in 1970’s Berlin, prostitutes, drag queens, the S+M underground scene, artists, performers, the homeless, drunks and dying on the streets of American and Russia.
Zownir’s mission to tell it as it is, to document the side of life we choose to ignore, avoid, pretend doesn’t exist and has led him to be repeatedly arrested, assaulted, threatened and censored while all the time giving us works – such as his pictures of the New York Sex piers, the “Halls of anonymous Lust” on the Hudson River, which served the early 80’s as a meeting place for public homoerotic activities until their removal – that are now considered historical documents.
Always authentic, always truthful Zownir’s thought provoking work continues to undermine the glossy corporate world we’re forced to ingest. Admittedly some of his pictures can be hard to look at and might even offend your sensibilities but, nevertheless, his work is important, critical. We are a society made up of many people, ideas, desires, wants, needs, we are a world of war, injustice, poverty, destitution and without photographers such as Zownir we would be ignorant of the wonder of human diversity. I for one don’t want to be incessantly fed a fluffy candy coated veneer of life, a life appropriated by the state and corporations, I want to bask in the richness of life, of the dark and light sides for one cannot exist without the other and more pertinently culture would not exist without the whole.
Dazed and Confused put it well when they described Zownir’s work as:
Zownir creates a mysterious sense of timelessness that takes the viewer to the realm of hyper-reality. It is impossible not to feel an intense emotional response when exposed to Zownir’s work. He is one of those rare artists whose empathy burns through his images, championing misfits and dreamers who live out their lives a long way beneath the radar of “acceptable” society – just in between the blank spaces of the newspaper obituaries, and the dark shadows of the tenement housing blocks.