Virtual Identities
Palazzo Strozzi



Paris Street View, 2009
Photographic series
Courtesy Michael Wolf and La Galerie Particuliere, Paris

Installation view at CCC Strozzina, Florence
Photo: Martino Margheri

Michael Wolf (1954, Munich, DE; lives and works in Hong Kong) lived in the USA from 1955 until 1973, when he quit his studies at the University of California in Berkeley to study photography at the Folkwangschule Essen with Otto Steinert. He then worked as a freelance photographer for various magazines and companies. In 1995 he moved to Hong Kong as contract photographer for Asia. Wolf has published five photobooks on China: China im Wandel (Frederking und Thaler, 2001), Sitting in China (Steidl, 2002), Chinese Propaganda Posters (Taschen, 2003), Hong Kong Front Door Back Door (2005) and Hong Kong Inside Outside (Peperoni Press/Asia One Publishing, 2009). Wolf's work has been exhibited extensively in galleries and at art fairs throughout the world since 2005, including shows at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago in 2006, at the Museum Centre Vapriikki in Tampere in 2007 and most recently at the Aperture Gallery in New York in 2010. Wolf won a first prize in the World Press Photo Award Competition in 2005 (Contemporary Issues Series) and then one in 2010 (Daily Life Single), on both occasions with topics photographed in Asia. In 2011 he received a honorable mention for his project A Series of Unfortunate Events.

The central theme in the projects of the German photographer Michael Wolf is the role of the individual in the life of the large contemporary metropolises, investigating it in series that are highly varied in formal terms and offeing constantly changing viewpoints.
For the Paris Street View series Wolf did not roam the streets of the French capital with his camera, but instead drew on the great number of images available online on Google Street View. Google concentrates on photographing stretches of urban streets following objective criteria such as distances and relations between places, transforming abstract maps into concrete images. Instead, Wolf uses a subjective eye to seek particular moments of this apparently objective material in the quest for a meaning that goes beyond the mere documentation of the instant. From an aesthetic point of view, Wolf refers to the tradition of street photography, represented during the 1950s by Brassaï, who recorded moments casually observed on the streets. Today this approach is no longer possible. In general, the issues regarding unauthorized publications of photographs depicting people is the subject of fierce debate in contemporary media society, which is adopting a new approach to the question of artistic freedom versus the self-determination of one's image. Over the years the confidence with which a global company like Google photographically documents the cities of the world has become the subject of a discussion to which Wolf's work also introduces a new political dimension.

Special project: I AM NEDA
Special project: ME 2.0