By Dr. Vince Briffa, Artist and Researcher
Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993)
The jazz photographs of Sergio Muscat aim to capture the entire physicality of a musician’s performance in one telling story. For Sergio, seeing the music (performance) is as important as hearing it. But unlike Wassily Kandinsky’s abstracted paintings of musical improvisation or Piet Mondrian’s rhythmic depictions of the sound of jazz, Sergio is not after representing the music genre through his preferred artistic medium. He is more interested in the artist’s performance as an activity that develops over time. Capturing the real soul of the jazz musician requires Sergio to become synchronous with the performer’s own movements. Snapping the picture is therefore a refined exercise in clockwork body movement and camera control.
This performance by the photographer is also the technique used in Muscat’s recent Soul Searching series; a body of work which also incorporates the gambled gestures of the camera in movement as a means to capture the artist’s personal memories of a place. Sergio’s recent interest in such temporal afterimages has its roots in an internal search for the very soul of the viewer-viewed relationship, a pursuit for the absolute human experience befalling the photographer and the photographed.
One therefore needs to view this body of work not as a document of the many prominent jazz musicians that have graced our shores over the many years that the Malta Jazz Festival has been organised, but rather as a collection of fragments of outstanding performances executed by a duo of artists – the jazz musician and the photographer. Like a duet, these works require the input of both performers equally and, if one were fortunate enough to have been present during one of those incredible starry nights at Ta’ Liesse, one can truly relive the magic of the moment through each one of these works.