Persona November, 3rd 2022 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 387 - Wanda Michalak & Debb Mills


World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 387 – Wanda Michalak & Debb Mills
The work of two photo artists: Wanda Michalak and Debb Mills was recently to be seen in the WM Gallery in Amsterdam under the title METAMORPHOPSIA – Warped Vision. Metamorphosis is a change of form, structure, character, appearance or circumstance, in a development.


Ovid wrote the book Metamorphoses in which he told about the creation and history of the world. The book is considered one of the most important works of Roman literature. But what is Metamorphopsia?


A distorted vision
We looked it up for you. Metamorphopsia is a type of distorted vision in which a grid of straight lines appears wavy and parts of the grid may appear blank, says Wikipedia. People can first notice they suffer with the condition when looking at mini-blinds in their home. For example, straight lines might be wavy or bendy. Things may appear closer or further than they are.


Ah, now we get it. Wanda Michalak recently had eye problems that distorted her vision and she did something creative with it. It largely coincided with the Covid pandemic of the past two and a half years, says Wanda when I visit her in the gallery. “We had two Covid waves. We found ourselves stuck in our place. The first wave, especially, was gripping and heavy. You could not go out. That was difficult. I had to do something. I started to take pictures.”


Everything muted
She spent most of the time inside, in her home. “I was at the very top of the house in my studio. I disappeared into it. It was actually kind of nice. Everything was silent outside, no people, no nothing. In my head everything was muted.” And on top that, she had that problem with her eyes. “It is especially difficult for a photographer. I see something and it moves, it oscillates. And then, I click. Everything in one picture.”


After a while she realized: ”This is going to be a new series”. The very first insight into this was that she could use glass to produce simulacrums. “That had a special effect. I just couldn’t stop. I just kept on taking pictures.”


When I saw the photos on the opening that I thought Wanda had played tricks by sliding different photos over each other, but that turns out not to be the case. It’s the glass effect that makes it all happen. Compare it when you look in the train window in the evening and you see the images of the opposite train window plus the images of your own train window. The effect becomes even stronger when it rains. Wanda also has rain photos.


On the other side of the world, in Australia, fellow photographer Debb Mills was also stuck in her property because of Covid. “She had to deal with limitations, but had more breathing room. She took close-up pictures of little critters, especially dragonflies. I thought ‘wow’. Not everything is that heavy. It makes everything lighter.”
They are wonderful photos. A dragonfly on a leaf, one on barbed wire, it seems it wants to escape. Another one on top of a dead flower, and one that looks like a person with wings open.

wanda9Dancing books

We walk past the pictures. I see dancing books, a swinging kitchen, a view into the room of the neighbours across the street. A closet with what appears to be the top of a house (in blue). A photo of the former school (on the other side of the Elandsgracht). An orange plant on the windowsill. A sculpture object of a kangaroo with large upright ears. And further up in the back room a series of selfies.


A surprise
Behind me hangs a configuration of more conventional photos, also taken inside the house and looking out of the house (a plane flies over in the air!), all in a nice black frame. “An idea from the curator, Sebastian. The photos are related to each other, it has a nice coherence.”
Wanda concludes: “From my ivory tower, I clicked and clicked without knowing exactly what would come out. All by phone. The result was often a surprise.”
1 – 6) images Wanda, 7 – 8) images Debb Mills, 9) portrait Debb Mills 10) portrait Wanda Michalak by Pete Purnell

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