Artist Statement

As a child of Holocaust survivors, I had no one to guide me in understanding the world around me. Although I was born in the USA, growing up, I felt myself ungrounded until I discovered photography during my last year in college. At last I’d found a way to express the strangeness, beauty, and subtext of the society, culture, and politics around me.

My visual journey began as a photojournalist when I went to the Middle East. However, when I came back to America, my photography became more an expression of what I was experiencing personally. As I ventured deeper into America’s culture, I discovered Jazz, which became another focus for my photographic explorations. After capturing the dynamism of this music in the still image, I became restless; I wanted to expand the use of movement, rhythm, and sound more directly as elements of expression; the obvious answer was film, so I started a new journey… into the world of films… seeing and then making them.

Artist Statement For Jazz

While living in Cambridge, I joined the Jazz Coalition and was inspired to capture the amazing energy of the music I was hearing. I wanted to create photographic images of the Jazz Greats that reflected the sounds I saw when I closed my eyes. To accomplish this, I would double and triple expose the negatives in-camera, and use different shutter speeds and f-stops within the same frame. Then I printed the final results caught in a single negative, without retouching or digital manipulation.

Artist Statement For Homeland

After one of my exhibits in Boston, the following review was written in Popular Photography.*

Here’s a recipe for a new cocktail, the Margot Niederland: two parts Judy Dater Vermouth, one part Elliot Erwitt Extra Dry Gin, dash of Diane Arbus bitters; stir vigorously with generous amounts of Black Humor. To these put your ASA over the 1,200 mark.

When you see a group of adolescent girls arranged on a lawn in formal (school-prom) satin dresses, which look on them as appropriate as a saddle on a cow, and the picture is not the soft-focus hand colored portrait variety, but a black-and white glossy, your immediate reaction is: “Aha! Diane Arbus!” Wrong. Arbus would have shown them with contempt; this photographer shows them with a chuckle. The girls are cutting up in over-assumed poses while the plainly dressed boy in the center maintains the bland composure of a Buster Keaton.

Or take a well-Datered subject: a raven-like woman in her kitchen. In addition to the environmental portrait Margot pictures her holding a helpless plucked chicken. The woman looks out at you with a half-smile that is so sinister you might think she personally murdered the bird. Somehow the combination of sinister smile and naked chicken…tickles! Is she going to devour it raw?
Or: an elegant lady in formal black dress with full complement of jewelry, photographed – of all things – flushing the toilet.
Or: a woman with a gypsy profile blowing smoke from a cigarette. The cloud neatly coincides with a flower vase to give double meaning to the term bouquet.

“In all, I’d say the Margot Niederland Cocktail is delightfully bittersweet.”
— Vladimir Gulevich

* The photographs he mentions are included on this website.

Artist Statement For Middle East

When I went to college I was a young idealist, thinking I might be able to have some positive effect in the world, so I became a Political Science major. However I also starting studying photography and began (naively) thinking that perhaps, even photographs could influence people -and hence governments- to move in a more humane direction, so in my last year I switched my major to photojournalism.

With that in mind I went to the Middle East after one of their wars and began photographing the remnants of their last battle; but soon I found myself focusing on the beauty of the land and its people. The photos on this Website are some of those taken at that time.