Oliver Vaccaro was born in Vancouver, Canada, in 1971. As his mother was French and his father Italian, he developed an early passion for traveling. That passion later turned into a vital urge, and the way it came out for him was through the photographic medium.

He spent his teenage years in Paris where he studied Art History at Ecole du Louvre and then chose to train as a photographer in Montreal, Canada. He graduated in Visual Art at Concordia University of Montréal. It was thereafter in Mexico that he finally developed his work as a professional photographer. He now lives in Berlin.

His approach is characterized by an exploration of the line that separates his inner life from the vision to which the world outside lends itself. He tries most of all to break away from any notion of exoticism, and to question his personal intuitions with the perception he has of the outside.


Enkoji Polaroid

“What’s the sound of the rain?”
PipPap PpuPp.... ZazZazZZaz... Suus sussss...
That is the sound of rain hitting something.
It would be the sound of raindrops striking the earth, roof tiles, leaves, puddles...
“What’s the sound of the wind?”
Hyuuuuu.... the sound heard between walls. Bwwowbwoow... the sound of waving trees and leaves. KakTakKakTak... the sound of a broken signboard hitting a pole.

One Sunday morning in Kyoto, following zazen (sitting zen meditation) in Enkoji- temple, Oliver Vaccaro has shown a series of photos taken with a Polaroid camera in the same temple a few days earlier to some other zazen attendees and the temple priest.

“Is it not unfocused?” “They seem like old photos.” “In which corner of the temple did you take this?” “Is it wood or water?” (You know, in this series there are two photos taken in a bamboo grove. ... However one is of actual bamboo more than 10 meters high. The other is scouring rush (equisetum hyemale – pteridophyte) which is at most 1 meter high.)

In a moment the inside of the camera opens slightly. In an instant various things in front of the lens are sucked into the camera like the opening of a airtight sack. Inside of the sack is full of water. Its surface... the net (the Polaroid paper) scoops it up. The sun is even in the ground. The water runs also in the air. The snow in the mid summer. The desert in the garden. All things have the feeling. Some are delighted, some straggle for air. It seems to be derived from a relationship with the surroundings. “Time” even appears. The impatience gives birth to Time. Tranquility or acceptance also produces Time. There’s shown the sound of the rain.

Toshimaru Hatano

Translation assistance: Duncan Flett