Alex Vanagas is a photographer from Washington D.C., USA. Photography © Alex Vanagas
1.In your opinion what is the role of a museum?
In my opinion the role of a museum is to show, to share and hopefully to inspire.
2.What are your favorite museums in the world? Why?
My favourite museum, if you can call it that, is the caves in the Pyrenees where you can view art from around 15,000 years ago. I don’t think we’ve created better art since then – just different. The intention of the artists is unknown and that’s part of what’s captivating about the space.
I also really like the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas, USA. Again, I don’t know if you can exactly call it a museum, but that’s why it’s special. It also functions as a meeting place and contemplation space.
3.How important are social networks in your business? And which platform do you prefer and why.
I use Instagram the most, because it’s a place to just have fun with images. Lately I underutilise social networks mainly to reduce screen time, but I know that they’re important so I should probably change that and find a balance.
In general, photography has helped me a lot at a particular time in my life, when my doctor told me I had a vitamin D deficiency which is very common and not serious, at least for me. However, it made me aware of the lack of sunlight in my life, so I began photographing the beams of sunlight in my apartment.
The diagnosis wasn’t severe enough that I had to face it in a deep way, but it inspired me to observe my surroundings in a different way and it pointed me towards a simple subject matter which I wouldn’t have photographed otherwise.
The photos I mentioned above are included in the “Book D” project, it’s a self published book. My apartment had around 10-20 minutes of small slivers of direct sunlight a day, so I photographed them. I also photographed the windowpane; the light shone through, which was almost always wet with condensation.
The physical book itself is really more of a folder – you have to open and close flaps to get to the images, which mimics the opening and closing of a window. I’ve also listed in the book every symptom of vitamin D deficiency I could find.
4.In particular, due to the coronavirus emergency, how have you changed your business on social networks?
Mainly by connecting with people I haven’t connected with in a while. I’m lucky that I haven’t had to deal directly with Covid19. In quarantine, I’m using the time to reflect, organise, learn, connect with friends. I’d rather be outside, but so far I’m finding plenty to do. I live in an apartment without a yard, so I’m also finding sunbeams to sit in to get some vitamin D.
5.To create greater engagement among museums, artists and professionals, do you have any advice for cultural projects such as #MuseumWeek?
Keep up the good work!
Interview by Fabio Pariante, journalist
Alex Vanagas (Washington D.C., 1975) is an American professional photographer who studied geography and sociology and after photography. Vanagas had his first camera as a teenager, and lately he is working on a series of landscapes that he shot during a long-distance excursion: the goal is to try to look at human relationships with nature. Currently the artist lives and works in Paris.