Issue #129  6/16/2007
Contemporary Works Adds 3 New Photographers: Vladimir Birgus, Samer Mohdad and Michael Manheim

Contemporary Works is now representing three additional photographers and has added their work to its inventory of contemporary art photography. The three artists are: Vladimir Birgus, Samer Mohdad and Michael Philip Manheim.


Vladimir Birgus became director of the Czech Photographers' Union Institute of Art Photography in 1982 and the Institute of Creative Photography, School of Philosophy and Science, Silesian University, Opava in 1990, and continues in those positions.

Birgus has been a member of the European Society for the History of Photography since 2001. He is Czech editor for the Imago journal and chief editor of Listy o fotografii. He writes regularly for the Mladá fronta Dnes and Hospodárské noviny dailies, as well as writing for the journals Ateliér, Fotograf, Fotografie Magazín, Photonews, European Photography, Kwartalnik Fotografia, Portfolio, etc. He is also a member of the Prague House of Photography.

Birgus is considered to be one of the top Czech scholars and writers on Czech photography, as well as a talented contemporary photographer. He has written dozens of books and had his photographs published many times, including in two monographs, "Vladimiír Birgus: Cosi nevyslovitelného--Something Unspeakable" and "Vladimír Birgus: Fotografie 1981-2004/Photographs 1981-2004".

His color photography uses strong color to convey mystery and a quixotic sense of life. He has photographed all over the world, including Asia, North America, Central America and Europe.

Critic Matt Damsker has written the following about Birgus and his art. "As Elzbieta Lubowicz notes in her introduction (to his monograph), Birgus uses large areas of dominant color--often primaries, and often red or yellow--to create an 'unrealistic atmosphere [that reminds] us of abstract paintings more than of reality recordings.' And yet his images are always in touch with the grit and texture of the modern, urban world. The human figures in his geometrically flattened landscapes of intersecting planes, shadows and sun-struck color are recognizably self-absorbed, often standing or walking in relation to one another, but without narrative or emotional connection."

Damsker continues, "The result is a singular photographic strategy that celebrates random visual fact, the coloristic beauty of everything from industrial materials to blue sky, and the human form as a means of activating and offsetting the inanimate forms that press in on us. Across the beaches, tiles, boardwalks, landing strips, streets, and rooftops of cities from Moscow to Paris, Seattle to New York, Birgus makes haunting, expressive photographs that reward the eye with glancing detail, fragmented narrative and rich natural light. His tendency to capture his own shadow as he takes the picture may echo Lee Friedlander without Friedlander's wit, but in the course of 20 years, Birgus manages to not repeat himself or fall prey to preciousness. His art brings the taut, toughened Czech sensibility into a wider world of big sky, sea, and postmodern architecture--and the result is usually something we have not seen before."

His photographs are in the collections of many institutions, including Museum Ludwig (Cologne), Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Bibliothéque National (Paris), Museet for Fotokunst, Lietuvos fotografu sajunga, Fotografijos muziejus, International Center of Photography (New York), Yokohama Museum of Art, Umeleckoprumyslové museum, Moravská galerie, Muzeum umení, Slezské zemské muzeum, Muzeum umení a designu, Galerie výtvarného umení, Prague House of Photography, Národní muzeum fotografie, Jindrichuv Hradec and Státní ústrední archiv–Sbírka Svazu ceských fotografie.

Birgus's photographs are available in 12 x 18 in. size in an edition of 20, plus Artist Proof, starting at $1,250; and in 30 x 40 in. size in an edition of 7, plus Artist Proof, starting at $3,000. They are printed on Fuji Crystal Archive chromogenic paper. Mounting and framing options are additional.

You can see examples of his images and a full biography at: http://www.contemporaryworks.net/artists/artist_imgs.php/1/6533 .


Born in 1964, Samer Mohdad holds dual Lebanese and Belgium citizenships.

In 1988, Mohdad worked in Paris for Vu agency. In 1990 the Elysée Museum in Lausanne commissioned a series of photographs on the Swiss army during the country's 700th birthday for a book and exhibition entitled "Voir la Suisse autrement".

Mohdad then began his work on the contemporary Arab world. From 1992 to 1996 he was in charge of Arab relations at the Elysee Museum in Lausanne. After the publication of his book "Les enfants, la guerre", followed by an exhibition at Visa pour l’Image in Pérpignan and at the Elysée Museum, he began taking photographs of the 387 Palestinians expelled from Israel to Lebanon's no man's land. Those photos were published in a book titled Retour à Gaza. "Du", a magazine published in Zurich, asked him to do a special double feature on Islam, followed a year later by another feature on Iran.

In 1996 he was a jury member at the World Press Photo conference in Amsterdam, and the same year he created the Arab Images Foundation in Beirut. From 1997 to 1999 he was curator of exhibitions and workshop master at the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie in Arles.

In 1999, he won the Mother Jones Award for his book "Mes Arabies" published by Actes Sud in France, Braus in Germany and Dar An-Nahar in the Arab countries. The exhibition Mes Arabies was launched in Geneva, after it had been shown at the Beiteddine Palace and Espace SD in Beirut, Lebanon. In 2000, the show moved to the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, then it was shown in Arles during the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie and finished its tour that same year at the King Abdulaziz Public Library in Riyadh.

Mohdad was conference master for "Arab photographs and their place in contemporary history" at Aix-En-Provence University. In 2001 the Mes Arabies exhibition made a tour in Germany at the IFA galleries in Stuttgart, Bonn and Berlin.

In 2003 Mohdad's article "Saudi Arabia in the Eye of the Hurricane" was published in a double issue of Du magazine in Zurich. In 2004 GEO magazine commissioned him to create a special dossier about Lebanon. In 2005 he produced and published in co-edition with Actes-Sud the book "Assaoudia", the second part to his Arab trilogy, accompanied by an exhibition at the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie in Arles. The same year he created the project "Mes Ententes", which was part of the AFKAR program sponsored by the European Commission and overseen by the Office of Minister of State Administrative Reform (OMSAR). The project was a field analysis of the situation of the return of displaced families to Mount Lebanon. As a part of the project, he produced a seven-minute film and a book.

In 2006 he worked on a special history issue of GEO Magazine in France about the roads of crusaders in Lebanon and began teaching photography at Notre Dame University in Lebanon and the Visual Merchandising School in Vevey, Switzerland.

Many of his black and white photographs are available as vintage prints. Most of these vintage prints were used for the production of the "DU" magazine in Zurich about Islam, published in the summer 1994, and are about 9-1/2 x 12 inches. They cost $1,400 each, and most were only printed in one or two examples. Modern silver prints on fiber paper are also available for $900 each on 16 x 20 inch paper in an edition of five, plus APs. Mounting and framing options are additional.

You can see examples of his images and a full biography at: http://www.contemporaryworks.net/artists/artist_imgs.php/1/6532 .


Michael Philip Manheim has been a professional photographer since 1969. A chance encounter with photography, at the age of 13, locked him onto a life-long pursuit.

Intrigued with the themes of change and transformation, Manheim developed a signature style of layering phases of movement onto a single frame of film. This approach transcends a literal interpretation. He calls this series the "Rhythm from Within".

Michael Philip Manheim's work has been exhibited throughout the United States and in Germany, Greece and Italy. His work has been featured in magazines such as Zoom (U.S. and Italy), Photographers International (Taiwan), La Fotografia (Spain), Black and White magazine, and numerous other publications.

He has been Artist in Residence at Bates College in Lewiston, ME and Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH.

Manheim's photographs are held in public and private collections, including the Library of Congress, the International Photography Hall of Frame & Museum, the Danforth Museum of Art and the Bates College Museum of Art. He has had over 15 solo exhibitions.

Julian Cox, curator of photography at Atlanta's High Museum of Art, noted that Manheim's photographs "have passion and beauty, and clearly considerable skill has gone into their execution."

Manheim's images are available in three sizes as black and white silver prints. The 8 x 12 in. size is available in an edition of 45, plus APs for $700. They are also available in a 40 x 60 in. size in an edition of five, plus APs for $3,500; and in 15-1/2 x 23 in. size (on 20 x 24 in. paper) in an edition of 10, plus APs for $1,200. Framing and mounting are additional.

You can see examples of his images and a full biography at: http://www.contemporaryworks.net/artists/artist_imgs.php/1/6520 .