Heinz Stephan Tesarek (www.heinztesarek.com) has been assigned many times by News, a leading Austrian weekly. However, the Vienna-based photographer is also focusing on own projects. Tesarek recently released a book called “Zwischenzeit. Bilder entscheidender Jahre” (Interim. Pictures of decisive years). the Austrian Culture Channel had a few questions.
You have been to warzones all over the world. Have you ever been afraid?
I have been to some warzones, but I am not a war photographer. I tell you frankly – a sudden tax pay back can be frightening, on a much higher scale.
Have you ever been in danger while at work?
If you decide to work on a certain kind of stories, there is no way around a certain amount of risk. I try to keep it to a limit.
At the age of 14, I saw a documentary about cameraman covering the Gulf War. This seemed very exciting to me. Soon afterwards I quit my technical education and started to take pictures.
Do you remember your first camera and set of pictures you took?
On my 10th birthday, I got a Polaroid 1500 Land Camera, and a film including 10 Polaroid pictures. The first image I took was my grandfather in our garden. Then I shot a portrait of my mum near a window. Then a school excursion to a monastery and my bicycle. I still have those pictures in my archive.
All of the pictures in your new book (“Zwischenzeit. Bilder entscheidender Jahre” / Interim. Pictures of decisive years) are printed in black and white. Do you think they are ‘stronger’ and have a bigger impact than in colour?
I work much in black and white, because of its abstractive power. Black and white is a strong reminder to past times. It puts our time in a historic context. I am much influenced by the German expressionistic silent movies of the 1920s and 1930s. This time shows a lot of parallels to ours. And unlike today, artists seemed to have a developed sense for political and social developments lying ahead.
It seems you wanted to leave important questions concerning violence, poverty and injustice unanswered with the photos of “Zwischenzeit”. Was it your intention to make people think about the problems of today’s society?
My intention was to collect evidence of today’s events. To collect photographs – in order to avoid words. The book does not give answers on the questions asked today. But maybe these questions will be asked tomorrow.