However, I think we also share the common elements of having been very highly-trained as artists. Both of us studied art extensively, and did not limit ourselves to filmography or photography in our studies. Therefore, we share a very solid classical artistic background, and I think that comes through in the strength of our works, even though we approach our work with a very different style.
HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON: Tacita is absolutely right about a shared cultural impact. World War II changed the face of Europe. However, it was not only Europe that was impacted by World War II, but literally the entire world. The Holocaust was not the first time something atrocious had occurred, but it was the first time there was a genuine threat that someone like Hitler could rule the world. It was also a moment of striking shame for so much of the world. So many countries tried an appeasement approach, ignoring the horrors of what Hitler was doing. Other countries, like France, were defeated and occupied, forced to become complicit in what Hitler was doing. Living through that experience made it critical to me to travel and expose newsworthy items. Some of my most memorable photographs were of Gandhi before he was assassinated and at his funeral. Here was a huge movement, led by a seemingly inconsequential man. To capture on film who and what Gandhi was is something a photographer can only hope to do once in a lifetime.
INTERVIEWER: Because you are both artists who have, at times, worked on commission, even though you are not the stereotypical pop artist, you have certainly had interactions with popular art. What is the thing about popular art that you find the most interesting?
HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON: What I find the most interesting about popular art, and popular culture, in general, is that it can elevate someone or something to an iconic status for any reason, or for no reason at all. In my photograph, Marilyn Monroe during the filming of "The Misfits," I was called on the capture the icon of womanhood at that time. Trite as it may sound, there was something about the camera that loved Monroe, and it served as a reminder that sometimes a photograph captures even more than reality.
Henri Cartier-Bresson: 'Marilyn Monroe during the filming of "The Misfits," Nevada, 1960.
TACITA DEAN: What I find the most interesting is that we talk about popular culture in such a way as if we could separate it from the rest of culture. We are living in popular culture. Therefore, everything we say or do becomes part of popular culture. One of my favorites of my films is one known as Fernsehturm. This film occurs in the revolving restaurant at the top of Television Tower in East Berlin, and it captures the change from night to day. The images cannot be separated from the context of culture, and what could better represent East Berlin than the images of change that occur in the film?
Tacita Dean: 'Fernsehturm': Frith Street Gallery, London, 2001.
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