I recently went to Berlin to screen my short film "Jákob’s Ladder" (also made with Marianna Auster and the music soundtrack by Czech composer Vladimir Hirsch) at the Directors Lounge during the Berlinale on February 17th, 2012. One of the highlights of my week there was the screening and my experience with the people who organize the Directors Lounge. Julia, Andre and Kenton are now top on my list of people I want to work with in the future and as friends. It was also nice to see Nick Zedd who flew all the way from Mexico to show his films in Berlin at several venues. I also appreciated the support of all my friends in Berlin who attended the screening of my film. You know who you are. And through all of this a miracle happened in Berlin for me. I reunited with a person who I have not seen in over twenty years. A person that I truly like and respect: Miron Zownir.
I have not seen Miron since the wild early days of my life in New York. If my memory serves me right, I first came across Miron when he was the doorman/security at the club Danceteria. I was going into the club and I saw this huge hulking menacing figure in the person of all leather clad Miron. He looked me over with his cold steely eyes and grunted something to me. I thought to myself, "Hmmm this is one guy I am not going to fuck with for sure!"
Also, if I am not mistaken, it was the same night, when I sat down next to him at the bar and had a cranberry and vodka. We looked each other up and down and he laughed that Miron laugh of his and said in a fun way, "What the fuck are you looking at?"
We started talking and found out we had a lot in common with our photography and interest in the sub-worlds that existed in Manhattan at that time in the '80s. We had very similar interests, but with a difference. I would enter these worlds and experience them to the fullest and observe and record mostly in my brain these creatures of the night. I was involved in the club scene and I chose specific personalities to photograph that I found who stood out with their creativity, but I certainly enjoyed the decadence of that time. It was a time of intense creativity, but also New York was damn dangerous and not only did you have to have eyes in the back of your head, but also on the sides of your head and have your radar up constantly not to be attacked by the dangerous elements of the night, but at the same time you could walk through the doors of what looked like ordinary buildings into amazing worlds of colourful creativity or extreme sexual decadence beyond the imagination.
Miron was also fascinated by these various worlds. He always lived his life on the edge much more than me and took things much further than I imagined. He would enter these extreme worlds with a detached eye and started photographing. He would enter the world of people who lived life on an even more extreme level. A lot of these people are no longer alive because they took their lives to such an extreme level through their individual lifestyles with their excess use of drugs and sexuality. Miron never shied away from the extremes and he was able to capture these people in their raw state. He disappeared towards the end of the 80s' from New York when the gentrification started to set in. I had no idea where he went. I now know we traveled similar paths without knowing it, but with a slight difference. He traveled to Los Angeles in the '90s with a car loaded with guns in a wild west drug filled journey. I took a plane. In Los Angeles, He once again involved himself with extremes and was brutally beaten and then imprisoned by the then fascistic Los Angeles police for several days in solitary confinement. I had an argument with the fascistic Los Angles police because I got a ticket for jaywalking. (Crossing the street by foot when the light was red) I took photos of some extreme, but Miron always was one step ahead.
He went on to capture the breakdown of social order in Russia in Moscow, looking death and danger in the eye and capturing it all with his camera. He told me he often had to literally run away from photographing some scenes or be killed instantly. I moved to Prague and was involved with the changes in Czech society. I did my best to capture some of the events and outstanding personalities of that time, but without the danger. Now here we are in 2012 and Miron and I meet again. It was like we did not have this gap of time. We really had the pleasure of talking and exchanging our stories. Miron is also involved with writing and film. He has had several films out and many books published. I consider Berlin my second home and will hopefully see much more of him. I am now preparing to have a gallery show of my photographs from New York in the 80s' in the Prague photo gallery Školská 28 Galerie Fotograf and along with curator Pavel Turek, we will present "The Groovy Dada Lounge Revisited" with the opening on March 20th. At the opening, I will have 99 photographs of all sizes, New York musician Mark Steiner and his problems (Czech musician Pavel Cingl and Argentinian musician Henry Hugo) will play, the amazing creative talent of DJ, Miki-discjokey and special screenings of films by New York underground shock filmmaker Nick Zedd. I am writing all of this about me along with Miron's photo portrait because, I feel the comparisons between him and I are important and I hope humorous in some ways I also strongly feel that with our meeting along with my gallery opening I have completed some circle in my life which is important. Please click on the highlighted names above for much further information.