We invite you to explore the ambrotypes of photographer Matthias Olmeta. His mysterious, evocative images are accompanied by a text written by François Cheval, Chief Curator at the Nicéphore Niépce Museum. Also, be sure to watch this great short video interview with Ometa, made by LensCulture during Photo London in 2015.

Excerpts from “An Introduction to Matthias Olmeta’s photography”

It is there. It is always there; that desire to take a photograph—not a work of art—but a photograph. An object suspended with a future in view; an impassive precursor. The object is always recognizable, biographical, narcissistic and obsessive. Nothing eludes us in this already substantial body of work, because everything is here. After so many years it is part of him: psychiatric patients met in Cuba, transvestite friends, encounters with prostitutes, and finally—most importantly—is family. Add to this list the phallus, the importance of which cannot be excluded, as its story integrates with that of his photography. An object among other objects, an autonomous animal that binds together this little world as an essential hidden presence, dissolving and merging into a monstrous chaos.


Confronted with the disturbing and intrinsic beauty of these images, one can become uncomfortable. Clearly under such circumstances it isn’t easy to give an elaborated judgement, to remain impassive and neutral about something that evokes desire and disgust , the hallucinatory and mystical. We are not asked to observe these pictures but to absorb them.

These people and objects frozen in his photography as on ice, impose themselves whilst we try—in vain—to find some structure or order. But what one does recognize is an anarchy, an acknowledged disorder, the experiences of a life, abandoning the world for the self. The only thing that seems to have been forgotten, or put aside, is the heavy burden of pre-conceived ideas that photography has carried around for the last 40 years.


Here is his world, inaccessible to others and limited by his life and actions. Whether it be transcribed on giant prints or glass plates, an alternative is offered without any other finality but to affirm the photographer’s predominance over this world.

In all respects, this photography is an occurrence out of the ordinary—singular and unique. An ode to an extraordinary force and energy, this series of fragments, assembled like a litany of still life, are offerings to the sun and the fire, not to be seen as vanities but rather ossuaries, the relics of the only authorized family, his tribe.

François Cheval, Chief Curator of the Nicéphore Niépce Museum, Chalon-sur-Saône, France