David Michalek

David Michalek is an artist who takes the concepts and techniques of portraiture as the starting points for the creation of his works, on both a large and small-scale, in a range of mediums. While studying English Literature at UCLA, he began to work as a studio assistant to noted photographer Herb Ritts. In 1991, he began his professional photographic career and worked regularly as a portrait artist for many publications including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Interview, and Vogue. Beginning in the mid-1990s, Michalek began incorporating and augmenting his work as a portrait artist with performance, installation, and interdisciplinary projects. He has collaborated with director Peter Sellars on two staged works: Kafka Fragments and St. François d’Assise. Michalek’s installations, mixedmedia projects and public art have been shown nationally and internationally, including at Lincoln Center Festival, Brooklyn Museum, Los Angeles Music Center, Paris’ Bastille Opera, Venice Biennale, Sadler’s Wells, Luminato Festival, Jacob’s Pillow, Yale University, and The Kitchen. He is a visiting faculty member at Yale Divinity School, where he lectures on religion and the arts. For more information on David Michalek andPortraits in Dramatic Time, visit davidmichalek.net/portraits. See below for David’s interview with UCSD senior Emilyn L Edquilang.

Artist Interview

1. Why did you want to be a part of Filmatic Festival?

I was asked.

2. What themes do you explore in your work?

Over the past ten years, my work has been closely tied to my interest in the contemporary person, which I’ve explored through the use of performance techniques, storytelling, movement and gesture.

3. Who inspires you?

Anyone who seems to be working vocationally.

4. What advice can you give to aspiring artists?

Trust yourself.

5. What are you listening to? …watching? …reading?

The current course I am teaching at Yale called, The Mysteries of Art and Beauty, has a hefty reading list which is keeping me busy. The course asks: when and how does beauty appear? What conditions must an object or event fulfill to be considered beautiful and what elements of our nature makes us sensible of it? What is art, where does it come from and what, beyond its own sake, is it good for? The exploration of these questions and issues, which are the primary challenge of this course, are explored through a variety of angles: ethnology, and philosophical aesthetics both eastern and western.

6. “If you could have one drink with one person, who would it be and what would you two be drinking?”

Dostoyevsky. Vodka.

7. “Where is the future of digital media heading?”

Toward disposability, but not necessarily valuelessness.