Michael Massart’s photography- to use the simplest term- is quirky. Whether experimenting with portraiture, in his picture that shows us a couple making love while covered in plastic, or portraying Darth Vader’s trip to a beauty salon for laser depilation, what seems central to this artist’s perspective is an openly curious, almost overwhelmingly factual attitude in his picture taking.
When one sees his pictures, a visible undercurrent is a strange suspicion that he’s almost mocking you in his cool, casual portraiture of Darth Vader playing a DJ set. What does one call this? Is it a newer, sarcastic cyberpunk? A rewriting of Star Wars, in the tone of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?
In any case, the examples are abound. We see Darth Vader delivering pizza, we see him working as a receptionist at a public toilet and in a particularly hilarious moment, we also see him working as a traffic policeman helping children cross the street.
What is also interesting in the work of Massart is that there is a deliberate attempt at holding the viewer captive, making him uncomfortable. Be it the Darth Vader series, where we are left between hilarity but also a discomfort of what we may make of this, or even some of his portraits, that see the viewer is being confronted by a man covered with meat or a singular eye that stares while the rest of the body remains buried under sand.
Something in Massart’s photos makes the viewer wonder what is being said and what they may not understand. And it is this tension that takes one back to his work continuously- to investigate this odd relationship between viewer and viewed. The only question remains- who is which?
All photos by Michael Massart.
Text by Anandita Thakur.