12 Questions: Alex Fakso
Alex Fakso has been documenting the European graffiti scene for a number of years. He has exhibited extensively, and recently had an exhibition with Martha Cooper. He has also published two books on the scene, Heavy Metal and Fast Or Die. Both books are crammed full of Alex’s atmospheric and moody photos. Alex’s dedication to documenting the writer lifestyle is evident in this short film of him in Buenos Aires.
Alex Fakso Buenos Aires VNA 2013 from The Baron on Vimeo.
More of Alex’s work can be seen > http://www.fakso.com/
Alex’s book and prints are available here.
Follow Alex Fakso on Instagram @alexfakso.
Can you please introduce yourself, where you where born, and what you do?
I’m Alex FaKso born and raised in Italy, in a small town called, Bassano del Grappa. I moved to Milan some time ago, now i’m based in London. I have been taking photos since early 90’s.
You have been documenting the European graffiti scene for some time now, especially the train writing movement. Can you tell us how you got involved in this?
Simple, I was a writer myself in early 90’’s. After a while I started to experiment more with photography as a medium and I embraced the camera. I started to take a lot photos of all my friends and the situations around us and published books.
You have had two books published which focus on the European graffiti scene, Heavy Metal and Fast Or Die. Are there plans in the future for another book anytime soon?
I always wait to make my work more mature, but yes I have a lot more in my mind to publish. I don’t like to say to much, when it is ready, it is ready.
After spending so much time exploring Europe’s rail systems and it’s vandals, what countries do you like most? Are there plans to document new countries any time soon?
I’m not documenting the European graff scene, and also I am not just in Europe, I have been in many different country around the world including Asia and America. You have to remember, I’m not trying to document any scene, I create images with my camera and the scenario is a yard and subway tunnels, this is very important to understand my work and what I try to do with photography.
The clean train movement in Europe is pretty strong, With some crews going to great lengths to get into yards and lay ups. What is the wildest thing you have seen writers do to get panels done?
You see new things all the time in videos online, so to be honest, I don’t have to much of an idea about what’s going on now.
With so much time spent with Europe’s clean train writers, what’s the worse situation you have been in, with regard to security, police, authority?
In Europe the worst that can happen is not the same if it were to happen in Asia and Russia, so the worst can only take place where human rights are not existing, that scares me a lot. I don’t have any specific situation because I have been lucky.
Digital or film? what is your preference, and what is in your camera kit at the moment?
Cameras are not important, its what you do with a camera that is more important. I love both cameras, digital and film, it always depends what I need at the time. So i make clear in my mind what it is I want to do first. At the moment I use a Canon Mrk II, Mamiya 7 and a small Muji, that’s it.
You have had several exhibitions over the years, What are some of the most recent exhibitions you have had?
In Lisbon last November at Underdog Gallery, I was glad to exhibit with Martha Cooper. Also, Smart B exhibit was an exhibition featuring about 3 generations of photographers from the 80’s 90’s and 00’s. Finally some galleries are starting to pay attention to photography, so I hope more galleries are coming up with more exhibitions with photography.
There seems to be a lot more photographers focusing on documenting graffiti at the moment, are there any photographers work that you really like?
Before I say something, I will wait some time. I want to see the work in more years or at least in a book. To do photography and put photos on the blogs is easy nowadays, need to see more gain on the game, to make differences in a way no one have done before. When I published Heavy Metal, there was nothing like that before, I was trying to approach and experiment from a different perspective, so now I expect people to do the same. Digital cameras are in the hands of every kid now, let’s see what’s gonna happen next. Also, what I look for in photography is less descriptive and more visual, I don’t like anymore documenting stuff, I prefer concept and more deep meaning but with visual impact and strong subject. To see a photo of a guy painting is a bit boring, I want to see a guy run on tracks with the security behind him, something extremely difficult to catch with a camera … or maybe compose a photo with different elements, this interests me more.
What’s your favorite photo from the style wars era?
OMG, let me think, I love the photo of the guy jumping on the roof of the subway train, bless Martha Cooper for those images.
The United Kingdom is notorious for handing out jail terms for graffiti related offences. London based graffiti vandal Vamp, was recently handed a three and a half year term on 39 charges. What are your thoughts on this?
I have a very negative point of view of our society, in how it works and in how society behaves itself, so I can’t say many good things. So far I can say that painting walls and trains is the crime that pays more bills than any other crime. Why? Because we have something to lose and the government knows this, so they make stronger laws because they know writers pay and it is a way to distract people from the real problems, government corruption, tax fraud, crime inside the government… come on, don’t need to say much, we all know.
Thanks for your time Alex, do you have any shout outs?
Run fast or you die…