The Fourth Wall is Max Pinckers’s strategy for guiding the viewer into the spirit of life in Mumbai. Typically, a city of such hardship for many has been conveyed by photographers through observations of communities whose very existence – such as sex workers and child labourers – symbolise the social and economic condition. Pinckers sets himself a very different challenge, perhaps one that is even more empathetic, which is to visualise how human beings creatively survive and escape such difficult realities. Over the course of his final year undertaking an MFA at the School of Arts in Ghent, Pinckers and Victoria Gonzalez-Figueras (who acted as his assistant for lighting and research) went to India, initially for a three-month period, returning for a further two months to complete the project ahead of his graduation. Pinckers went to Mumbai with the idea of creating a photographic project about the Hindi (Bollywood) film industry and the extent to which its narratives are embedded in everyday life in urban India. A few years earlier, while travelling in India, Pinckers had been a paid ‘extra’ on Bollywood film sets, like many young Western tourists who are scouted on the streets of Mumbai and this was when he realised that, ‘Bollywood strongly defines the culture [of India]’. Most of the photographs that made it into The Fourth Wall book (which Pinckers considers the primary form of the project) were made on his second two-month stay in Mumbai by which point almost all the photographs that he made on actual film sets or depicting working actors had been edited out. Pinckers acknowledges that The Fourth Wall works in its, ‘very fine balance’ between the cinematic and the real in order that it can tell a story of magical realist power, of unexplained wonders and drama that are rendered from actual lives and experiences.
– Charlotte Cotton, IMA Magazine Vol. 5, Japan, Autumn 2013.
Max Pinckers, was born in 1988, Brussels, where he still lives and works.