Writer and photographer Michael Katakis has been writing about and photographing a wide range of cultures and geographic locations for the past forty years. He has traveled extensively throughout the People’s Republic of China, West Africa, Cuba, India, Hungary, Morocco, Turkey, Ukraine, the United States, Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, Italy, Greece, England, Australia, France and Spain to name a few.
Michael’s books include Photographs and Words’ with Kris Hardin (British Library 2011) of which John Falconer, Lead Curator of Visuals Arts at the British Library wrote;
“…theirs is not a voyeuristic documentary... but a record charting... the characteristics of human society which bind rather than separate.” Furthermore he says that theirs is a shared and “continuing determination to speak out in the cause of both tolerance and honour and not to become a silent accessory to injustice.”
His other books include:
(Scribner UK 2020) (Mondadori, Milan, 2020)
Ernest Hemingway: Artifacts From a Life
(Scribner, New York, 2019) (Editions Gallimard, Paris, 2019) ( Mondadori, Milan, 2019)
(Old Lion, Kviv, Ukraine, 2019)
A Thousand Shards of Glass: There is Another America
(Simon and Schuster, UK 2014)
Traveller: Observations From an American in Exile
(Scribner, New York 2009)
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial
(Crown, New York 1988) The Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial is a
two-year study of the emotional impact the memorial has had on it’s visitors
Sacred Trusts: Essays on Stewardship and Responsibility
(Mercury House, San Francisco 1993)
Excavating Voices: Listening to Photographs of Native Americans
(University Museum Publications, University of Pennsylvania 1998)
(Foolscap Press, Santa Cruz, California 2008)
In 2011 Michael Katakis’s exhibition opened at the British Library’s Folio Gallery to coincide with the publication of his, and Dr. Kris Hardin’s book, Photographs and Words (British Library Publications, 2011)
Michael Katakis and Dr. Hardin were presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth by Baroness Blackstone, Chairman of the British Library, on 10 November 2011.
In 2012, Michael was invited to address the Royal Geographical Society, Of the 22 February 2012 evening, Emily Ray wrote in the Huffington Post,
“….the subject of the evening was the remarkable photographer and writer Michael Katakis. ….His powerful images of daily life in Sierra Leone were particularly poignant, not least because they document villagers’ lives before the barbaric Civil War that began in 1991. ….This is a man who has integrated himself within the lives of those he has photographed, sharing their experiences and their fears. ….The evening itself was suitably thought provoking and heart warming at the same time. It was an extraordinary opportunity to see two distinguished travellers discuss the spontaneity and thrill of exploring new countries and recognizing the spirit of people faced with devastation. I left the building enormously pleased to have been a part of the session. It may have been (Michael) Palin’s name that drew me to the event, but it was the empathetic, powerful images of Michael Katakis that has left a lasting impression on me.”
Michael Katakis was appointed Ambassador for the British Library and elected Director of Americans for the British Library in 2012.
In 1999 he was elected ‘Fellow’ of the Royal Geographical Society and in 2001 his, and Kris Hardin’s exhibition, A Time and Place Before War, opened at the Royal Geographical Society in London.
In 1999 Michael Katakis was asked by Patrick Hemingway to manage his father’s (Ernest Hemingway) literary estate. Michael agreed and has represented the estate for over twenty years.
Amnesty International chose Michael’s work from Sierra Leone for the cover of their international calendar (1990) and for the book, Thoughts on Human Dignity and Freedom, with a foreword by Arthur Miller (Universe Books, 1991).
In 1991 the National Portrait Gallery, Washington D.C., acquired Michael’s portrait of Maya Lin for their collection.
In 1988 Michael was the photographer on an anthropological expedition led by Dr. Kris Hardin of the University of Pennsylvania to the Kono area of Sierra Leone, West Africa. His photographs from this project appear in Hardin’s book, The Aesthetics of Action, published by Smithsonian Press. In 1987 his photographs of China were part of the inaugural exhibition of the International Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.
In 1989 Katakis’ work was included in the book, 75 Years of Leica Photography. His work appeared with photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Sebastiao Salgado and Alfred Eisenstaedt among others.
In 2008 the British Library requested and then acquired Michaels and Dr. Hardin’s photographic and written work for the library’s American Collection. Also in 2008 the British Library recorded extensive audio interviews with Michael and Dr. Hardin for their Oral Histories Department. The British Library is now the repository for all of Katakis and Hardin’s work.
Michael Katakis was elected to the Athenaeum, London in 2012.
In 2015 filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick asked Michael to be a consultant on their documentary film about the life and work of Ernest Hemingway. The documentary will be released internationally in 2020.
Katakis’ book ; Ernest Hemingway: Artifacts From a Life, was published by Scribner New York and has been translated into ten languages.
Michael’s A Thousand Shards of Glass, published in 2014, was re-released with a new introduction by Simon and Schuster UK in 2020. Of the book, Dr. Henry Marsh, author of Do No Harm and Admissions wrote;
“George Bernard Shaw observed that all progress depends on unreasonable men-as reasonable men adapt themselves to the world and do not try to change it. But Michael Katakis is a reasonable man who has refused to adapt. A Thousand Shards of Glass, a book written with remarkable prescience some years ago, recounts with sad eloquence his disillusionment with America. His is a voice full of common sense and simple humanity that seem to have been lost in contemporary America. It is a voice both kind and angry, the voice of a reasonable man who has not lost his idealism but who is deeply troubled by what he sees and describes so clearly.
And in the United States, Rick Kleffel of National Public wrote;
“…A Thousand Shards of Glass' by Michael Katakis begins with an essay of the same name that sets the tone for much of what follows. Katakis writes with an economic elegance about the rift between America as advertised and America as experienced with the passion and precision of a poet. He conflates the personal and the political with a disarming ease, bringing us into his writing as if we are in conversation with him. He's crisp and concise, but musical. This introduction is the most charming welcome to hell you're ever likely to experience.”
In 2020 Michael’s first work of fiction, Dangerous Men, was published by Scribner UK and Mondadori in Italy.
About, Dangerous Men, Charles Scribner lll wrote;
“In this powerful debut, Michael Katakis strips away the comfortable fabric of civilization to reveal painful truths, bone chilling emotion, and starkly isolated souls set in a timeless winter landscape. I was reminded of Ernest Hemingway’s darker stories from his own debut, In Our Time. Like that master, Katakis never fails to engage the reader’s imagination nor evoke a strong visceral response that lingers long after the book is closed.”
And Patrick Hemingway,
“Michael Katakis writes well about contemporary America in these fast-paced stories that come back to haunt you like an Edward Hopper Sunday.”
In 2019 Michael Katakis was elected to the National Union of Journalists.
In 2022 Michael was invited to Ukraine by the international Hay/Lviv Literary Festival. His fellow participants included the New Yorker magazine’s Jon Lee Anderson, authors Philippe Sand, Dr. Henry Marsh and Misha Glenny to name a few. After the festival Michael and others traveled by overnight train to Kyiv. Shortly after arriving the bombing of Kyiv by Russia began. Three days later during a fourteen hour journey, Michael and others were extracted overland to the Polish border.
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