John Michael Rusnak's Fear of Nostalgia 
“Fear of Nostalgia”, shot entirely in Havana, Cuba, is a purely film/photograph series of photo-abstractions comprised of five triptychs, in a limited edition, created from Polaroid55 black and white film negatives. The initial concept was to illustrate the ignorant repeats of colonialism, imperialism and racial segregation and discrimination. The series was exhibited with texts excerpted from the editions of José Martí, Ghandi, Eldridge Cleaver, Dr. Ivan A. Schulman and Fidel Castro. It opened to critical acclaim in Havana where it was exhibited during January 2013 in the Fototeca de Cuba.

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Photographs by John Michael Rusnak, © All rights reserved.

In his own words

My project “Fear of Nostalgia” is intended to be a “universal project”.

The popular belief by many writers throughout the epochs is humanity's general inability to reflect upon our past in order to progress or evolve in a manner of transcendence.  Fear of Nostalgia is attempting illumination of humanity's reluctance to evolve to a better peaceful place by learning from our past experiences.

The art is comprised of five triptychs. Triptychs traditionally (before secular art) were designed to take the viewer through the art to a much deeper meaning within.  Initially, I planned on photographing the initial imagery for the photo-abstraction art in Algeria, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Watts, Bosnia and New Jersey.

The first stop was Cuba. The Cubans welcome the philosophy behind the project. It was actually very José Marti, a man that they refer to as "The Apostle" in Cuba.  They proposed that I change the direction of the project and create it exclusively in Cuba.  I agreed since the imagery would end looking the same anywhere I created it. After all there is much to be inspired by in Cuba.

There were some problems along the way, but nothing insurmountable. The Cuban government was more interested in the project being perfect and being culturally sensitive to both the USA and Cuba than many other governments would have been.

The project opened on the 27th of January at the FOTOTECA de Cuba, a national photography museum.  I am totally happy with the response of the viewers both Cuban and international.

After all art is designed to plant the seed for thought and the art seems to be planting many. It is a narrative series -the combination of five triptychs hopefully planting a single thought in its viewers minds.

“...itiene el mundo quien tiene el poder de poner sobre los niños las primeras manos!”
“...he who has the power to place his hands first upon the children has the power of the world!”
José Martí 
“Si vamos a enseñar la verdadera paz en este mundo, y si vamos a sostener una verdadera guerra contra la guerra, vamos a tener que comenzar con los niños.”
“If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”
“Debemos ocuparnos de la protección de nuestros hijos que son la clave de la creación de un mundo de amor, paz, y equilibrio.”
“We must look to the protection of our children who hold the key to the creation of a world of love, peace and equilibrium.”
Dr. Ivan A. Schulman

About Fear of Nostalgia in Cuba
John Michael Rusnak

The first opening reception for John Michael Rusnak’s new photographic exhibit, “Fear of Nostalgia”, was held on the evening of the 27th January, 2013, to great critical acclaim, at the Fototeca de Cuba in Havana, Cuba as part of The Third International Conference For World Equilibrium sponsored by UNESCO, as part of the celebration of José Martí’s 160th birthday. “Fear of Nostalgia”, shot entirely in Havana, Cuba, is a purely film/photograph series of photo-abstractions comprised of five triptychs, in a limited edition, created from Polaroid55 black and white film negatives. The initial concept was to illustrate the ignorant repeats of colonialism, imperialism and racial segregation and discrimination. The series was exhibited with texts excerpted from the editions of José Martí, Ghandi, Eldridge Cleaver, Dr. Ivan A. Schulman and Fidel Castro.

On 20 September 2012, Roberto Fernández Retamar announced that “Fear of Nostalgia” will be shown at the Fototeca de Cuba instead of at the opening of the Convention as originally planned and would be on exhibition in the National Photography Museum for a month.  After February 2013, the exhibit will be taken on tour throughout Cuba and upon its return to Havana the entire “Fear of Nostalgia” exhibition will become a permanent part of Cuba’s art heritage.

John Michael Rusnak’s exhibitions have so far touched upon childhood nightmares with his “Arlequins de Nuits”, the subject of religion with “Duplicitous Icons” and humanity’s reluctance to evolve through reflection with “Fear of Nostalgia”. His fashion photography has appeared on the pages of British Harper’s Bazaar, FLAUNT, Magazine, Luxe-Immo as well as in campaigns and advertorials for Prada, Moet et Chandon, Cartier, Fendi and Loree Rodkin Jewelry.

For more on Fear-Of-Nostalgia please visit: WWW.FEAR-OF-NOSTALGIA.COM
Artist/Photographer John Michael Rusnak had his first “aha!” moment at the age of eight when he won a prize in the Mullen Elementary School Art Competition for his painting of a carnival clown. Not only was painting fun but people actually liked what he was doing. Being surrounded by art at home, his parents being artistic themselves, he was very supported in his burgeoning artistic nature.

His second “aha!” moment came during his modeling career when he was on location on the Brittany coast with photographer Beth Bischoff. During the down time moments he would “borrow” her camera while she napped to photograph interesting people he encountered in the streets, thus initiating Rusnak’s career behind the camera as well as his career in front of the camera.

Arriving in New York City, Rusnak was approached by a model scout and his fascination with fashion as well as art was brought to the fore. Working in the top fashion hubs of New York, Paris and Milan, as well as traveling to exotic locations, his modeling career exposed him to some of the most renowned and influential photographers of all times – Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin and Chris Von Waganheim. Having an ever enlarging scale of influence while traveling the world Rusnak began to incorporate the photographic styles to his paintings, as well as having his art style influence the photos he had begun to take.

Up until then painting had been a hobby for Rusnak. Experimenting with techniques, subject matter and sometimes combining both his photos and paintings, Rusnak met an agent who considered him an artist, not just a photographer and encouraged him to continue with his vision. Rusnak returned to Paris in the early months of the year 2000. A year later he was given an exhibition of his paintings at a gallery in the Marais. The collection was called “Arlequins de Nuit”, paintings of very scary clowns, the kind that give children nightmares. The show was very successful and propelled him forward in techniques, both artistic and photographic.

Back in New York Rusnak met Arne Glimcher, owner of the PACE Galleries, who instantly took him under his wing and became his true mentor. Through Glimcher, Rusnak had the opportunity to photographically re-interpret the sculptures of John Chamberlain for FLAUNT, creating vast abstract, sculptural, photographic landscapes. He was then chosen, with the explicit approval of Miuccia Prada, to photograph ‘Waist Down: SKIRTS BY MIUCCIA PRADA” for FLAUNT using the sculptures of NYC – artist Fred Wilson, then on exhibit at PACE as backgrounds.

In 2006 Rusnak began the process of integrating his own art with his photography. He created hand-painted murals and other “hard-art” pieces specifically to use as backgrounds for his commercial and editorial work. He next added the elements of photomontage to this artistic process in a series of powerful portraits which led to his first U.S. photographic-exhibition, CLIMATE25 in 2008 at Mark Seliger’s 401 Projects Gallery.

He spent much of the next year intensely pursuing new ways of integrating his art and photography seamlessly into one medium. Then in March 2011 John Michael Rusnak was given a one-man-show in New York’s Chelsea district presented at the CATM Gallery. This fourteen piece collection, titled “Duplicitous Icons”, was a stunning series of hand-painted, pigment printed, photo-abstractions of his mixed-medium “hard-art” pieces.

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John Michael Rusnak's Fear of Nostalgia
February 2013
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