The Work of Anders Petersen

Since 1967, Swedish documentary-style photographer Anders Petersen has been capturing unguarded, intimate images of members of the night time sub-culture in the cities of Europe.  Like many photographers of this genre, Petersen’s work is inseparable from his own life as an atmosphere of trust and understanding is clearly evident in his images and his various publications seem intensely personal visual diaries of his experiences.  Lovers, drunks, prostitutes, drug dealers and users, transvestites loose these labels as he photographs them from the point of view of a close friend, liberating him from the confines and restrictions of the polite society he had been born in to.  Perhaps because of this instinctive pull and empathy, Petersen finds beauty in unlikely places and often photographs incredible moments of tenderness where most would only find brutality.  Petersen immerses himself in the world of his subjects, photographing prisoners over a period of months in a high security prison and the patients of an insane asylum.  Immediate, explicit, insightful, he shoots at tight and close angles, almost including the camera as part of the scene he is witness to.  The results of his work can be challenging and difficult but they are never the view of a superior or judgemental voyeur.  This is a record of a man who is not only technically gifted and instinctively aware, it is the work of an artist who recognises the same vulnerabilities, passions, fears, flaws and damage in himself, his subjects and his audience.

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