Sunday, 17 May 2015

Brendan George Ko

Montréal, Canada



You’re a storyteller, and use (almost!) everything perceptible to express and recount past events and to recreate memories. In this endeavour I feel that your work, in its entirety, is very personal; would you say that you not only create, but also really ‘live' your art/work?

I’m obsessed with remembering. When I am witnessing something that interests my curiosity I get this strong urge to document it. It can be a really good story being told, or an absurd scene on the street, or someone that I connect with (even though I just met them). For as long as I remember I’ve had this obsession, I just didn’t have the tools to capture them. For a while it was photography, then writing, then both, and now it is mainly sound and video. I believe that life should inspire art but life can also be the art. 

Is it a goal of yours to try to capture moments and atmospheres as completely as possible? How much of it would you say is or could be conscious interpretation?

There is a certain sense of a place that I try to capture with my images (still or moving).  With Nocturne it was about creating an image that reminded me of landscape of New Mexico. Growing up there I had heard countless stories of ghosts, aliens, and shape-shifters and their myth haunted the landscape. With ALOHA the atmosphere is being used to complicate a Western perspective of Hawai’i (a paradise for tourists). It will never be complete as all images fail to give us something real, something alive, and able to change. Motion picture is able to bring us closer to reality but in turn it replaces one reality for another (a filmic reality). 

How do your projects come into being? Do they start with an idea, a photograph, a quote …?

They often start with a story or situation and they develop as an investigation. ALOHA came out of my time spent in Hawai’i and some of the stories I heard from there. It turn those stories became what I know of Hawai’i, and so I felt compelled to use those stories for the conceptual framework of the body of work.  With Proof of Existence it started off as a trip to China and how I wanted to create images I haven’t already seen of China from the numerous photo essays about that place and its situation. In turn it became a story about my father realizing he was a tourist in a place he was exiled from so many years ago. 

In teamwork, which is the position you find yourself assuming most of the times?

I’m terrible at following and I feel uncomfortable with leading. So often I just go my own way. I believe a good collaboration is between individuals who have their own thing that they do and how those things that they do come together. Both have to share the same intentions and believe in each other beyond just their practice. 

How has being on the road while growing up shaped you?

I think my friends find me a bit strange and eccentric and it comes from having lived in very different places where what is normal to some is strange to others. My life in New Mexico is where the artist in me came into being, and like my current muse, Hawai’i, it is a place where oral tradition is a central part of the culture. 

What is more important to you personally: stability or movement? Why?

Definitely movement. I have no idea what stability is, and I recently moved out of a city I had been living in for 11 years (the longest place I ever lived in) because I started to feel claustrophobic. I wouldn’t call myself a world traveller, I like to move around and experience different places, but I’m more interested in gaining new perspective (which I believe comes from staying somewhere for more than just a visit). 

Is there a person who you feel is, physically or mentally, always by your side?

I know little of things that last the test of time, such as friends that I have said goodbye and that there wasn’t some distance as a result. My best friend, Faye, is someone I think about everyday since the first time I saw her. I like to joke to her about how we are stuck with each other, that even if we grew tired of each other, we will always been strongly connected. I have never felt that with anyone else, and though I am too young and inexperienced in whatever amount of life that I have I feel that I will never have that with another soul. 

I noticed that in the stories you share on your blog, you never give any names for the persons described. Is there a reason for this?

Those stories function similarly to a journal but they are on the internet and they are being shared. It is no longer about them or even me at that point, it is about communication. It is like communicating with smoke signals: you are writing a message in the sky for all to see and people just see the message but never the person writing it. 

What are you working on currently?

ALOHA is my primary focus, I hope to work on that project for the rest of my life as I will always have a strong connection to Hawai’i. I’m in Montreal at the moment and I started a documentary on an urban dance movement called, “urb.SURF”. And every once in a while I update 2011’s We Soon Be Nigh! with new work. 

Who is or are your favourite storytellers? 

Hayao Miyazaki, Haruki Murakami, Omer Fast, and Duncan Trussell. 

(p.s. Be sure to take a look at his website, and take in all pictures, videos and sounds to full extend.)

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Anthony Cudahy

Brooklyn, NYC

You grew up in a family of artists. Did you encourage each other in your works respectively? Would you talk about or even develop ideas together at times?

The real encouragement was found in just fostering an environment in which creativity wasn’t weird or eccentric. My mother studied study art in college. My dad wrote. My brother is an animator. My aunt is an artist and art teacher. My other aunt went to school for photography. I actually use her archive often to cull images. I hoardI’m an image collector. So in that way, the relationship is collaborative. Similarly, my mother took some paintings she made in college out of storage a few years ago and asked if I would want to paint on them, making a collaboration spanning decades. We called it Three Paintings (1981-2013). Painting over those images was incredibly difficult and nerve raking, but it taught me a lot. Nothing is precious in painting; nothing is holy. You have to risk destroying something sentimental. 

How was the experience of being an artist in residence at Artha Project?

The Artha Project really changed my practice and my life. One: it was incredible to have a group of people believing in the work I make so thoroughly. I'm forever appreciative of that. They gave me and two other artists (Rebecca Mosena and Brian Brown) that cycle a huge studio in the Brooklyn Navy Yards from August 2013 to the August of the following year. 
The space was important. Before that, I had never had a studio outside of my living room, and while I painted some larger paintings there, it was limiting. At the Navy Yards studio, a former resident left two huge 5' x 8' canvases and I made the two biggest paintings I have ever made. Conceiving of work that big, the physical time and energy, and the painting concerns all were new and challenging. 
Since leaving that space, it's been a struggle to find a studio that functions for me in a similarly productive way, but I believe the year there at the residency made me a more serious and ambitious artist.

Is it important for you to stay in touch with other artists? When do you find yourself seeking solitude?

Of course, and there are several outlets for that connection. One being the city I'm in makes it very easy to see shows and speak with other artists. That's not always the best way for me to engage in the work. Even with my close friends, I need a lot of quiet time. It's a struggle when you need that time with other people and then you need maybe double that alone to regroup energy. 

You roam different outlets for inspiration or models for later paintings. Can you sometimes sense what it is exactly that draws you to an image or scene?

You can't ever see things head-on. It's only peripherally you can begin to understand what you're getting at in painting. I do work from a variety of divergent sources. It's an unexpected and unplanned event for me to stumble on an image that resonates. When I take a step back and look at the body of work, then I can see some common threads. I'm interested in versions, re-enactments, doubling. The history of an image, whether it's degraded or transformed. How the representation of a person is influenced by all of thatmasks and obstructions. 

I had the impression that for your most recent paintings you predominantly chose muted colours. Is this a deliberate choice? Or rather, what’s the reason behind this?

Lately I'm interested in colour schemes, plans, and restrictions. How much can I get out only a few colours if no others are allowed. The less you have to work with, the more you have to push and think. Exploring simultaneous contrast and other minute colour shifts on the canvas. The work now is definitely less loud, but I think more complex and intelligent. 

Whose work are you following right now?

Heidi Hahn. She's a really excellent painter. I recently interviewed her for Packet Biweekly where she is finishing her cover residency. Ginny Casey, Kim Westfall, Kelley McNutt, Winslow Laroche, Aidan Koch... Eric Wiley's paintings are always next-levelling, but are particularly impressive right now. The work I likely follow the closest is that of my partner, Ian Lewandowski, who is a great photographer. We work through ideas, critique, and influence each other. Nicole Reber. Chris Nosenzo. Devin Morris and his project 3 Dot Zine. He works a lot with Theresa Chromati as well. Her drawings are wild. 

Do you find yourself working differently depending on the environment you’re in? If yes, can you give examples?

I'm pretty adaptableI just need a wall and a window. Usually if I'm briefly in a place and can't take my oil paints, I'll work more with gouache on paper. Or I'll focus on drawing. 

Do you plan your days ahead, or rather like to stay flexible?

I have to plan things down to the minute at this point. 

Are you listening to music while working? Do you prefer a loud/busy or silent environment?

There needs to be music playing or silence. I can't focus on anything when people are speaking. Diane Cluck is my favourite musician to listen to while I paint at the moment. 

What’s you’re favourite spot to go out for dinner?

Crock-pot at home. 

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Nicolas Sisto

Paris, France


What is the Tumblr “Silent Conversation” with Olga Perevalova about?

I had a conversation with Olga for three years; at first she was a stranger whom I had chosen on Flickr. The conversation consisted of only pictures: no email, Skype, phone calls or even postcards. On the first day I send her a picture, she replied on the second and we went from there, until day 365. We used a Tumblr blog to communicate. In the end I met her in St. Petersburg in October 2013.

How did it come into being? What did you like most about it?

I was reading a book about a French poet who had lost his legs during WWI; he used to have real conversations but with strangers. I wanted to try the same thing, but with photography. My favourite part about the project was that I was thinking about it everyday. Also I very much enjoyed discovering the world of a stranger through pictures. It's a bit voyeuristic, yes.

And can you tell me more about the exhibition “Collection of Escaped Minds”? Why escaped? From/to where/who?

It's a collection of portraits I have been putting together since I started to engage in fashion photography. It's a long personal project that I started when I realized that I like to stand in front of a person who forgets the presence of the photographer - and wanted to create a visual memory of it.  It seems like they escape the moment, situation or place, they are daydreaming, and I am catching that moment ... maybe I'd like to be a ghost. Thirty pictures of the collection where presented at the Art Paris Art Fair 2015 at the Grand Palais, Paris, and in association with Oksana Salamatina, my gallerist.

Are you or will you be working on a new photographic project? What is it about?

Yes, I am working on two new projects. But it's a long work process in both cases, and I can't talk about either yet.

You worked as a dark room teacher for a period. What was the most important thing you told your students?

That they need to close their eyes when they have problems developing films or images.

You are an architect as well. Do you feel that working in both of these areas - photography and architecture - helps you to develop yourself as an artist? Are there ideas you transferred from one field to the other?

I need both areas as ways to experiment with my thoughts and feelings. Architecture is a slow and complex process including a lot, maybe too many, people. Photography is quicker and is about the relationship between the photographer and the model. I chose theses two media to build a personal aesthetic, to do social research and to define my own reality.

Which city or built structure(s) has impressed you?

The Therme Vals.

Are you a flâneur or rather a ‘determined' walker?

Determined walker.

Is there a movie you liked especially for the imagery in it?

Paris, Texas.

Love is...


Thursday, 2 April 2015

Marta Bevacqua

Paris, France

What does a typical day in your (work)day look like?

It really depends. What I like most about my job is that each day is different. There are the days of shootings, where I meet lots of new people every day, and do the most enjoyable part of being a photographer. Then, if I have strict deadlines, there are the days of postproduction. I then have to close myself into my world, with my music, and work all the day in front of the PC. Then again, there are days where I organize new shoots, appointments for various kinds of jobs and so on. So, actually, I can't really say how my usual day looks like; fact is that I don't think I ever have a "usual" day...

Do you enjoy working freelance? What are the best sides to it?

I answered this a little bit in the previous question; one of the best sides is that each day is different from the others. Also, I love the fact that I can organize my days and my life as I wish, having time - though but not always - to do other things, too. Of course, there are also some bad sides, but mostly I can say I really enjoy it!

The majority of your photographs take place outdoors, showing a strong connection to nature. Is this sort of portrayal something that developed over time or a preference you had early on?

It's absolutely something I've always done. I grew up in the country and I started taking photographs of trees, plants and flowers. Only after some time I started taking some portraits, and obviously I started to take them in nature, since I felt more comfortable that way. This was many years ago, and I never stopped to work in the woods and so on; so, I can say it's me, to be so connected to nature. 

What are the biggest difficulties you encountered when shooting outdoors?

Weather (if you shoot in winter, you need to be very careful to not make the model freeze), locations (sometimes the places are not as good or suitable as they appear to be in photos, so I always do a location "exploration" beforehand), and sometimes it's necessary to ask for permissions. Other times it's difficult to use dresses, because if you work with fashion designers, the dresses can get ruined by dirt or other things, and so on. I must admit: if I shoot fine art, it's ok. But with fashion photography, it's always very complicated and every time it is a real challenge!

Do you know the models personally, too? 

Not really, or, better, let me say, not all the models. It depends if they come from an agency or not.

How important is it for you to discuss the shoots with them?

Quite important; I usually invent stories to tell them, so they can understand "who they are", or portray.

What are the ups and downs of living in a city like Paris?

It's so full of everything, and that sometimes can be too much. There is a lot of movement, happenings, things to do - and that's great. But at the same time it's quite chaotic (but not as much as many other European cities). But I love it! It's my place!

What can we expect to find in your photo book? Do you plan on making a second one soon?

All of my biggest projects of 2014. And yes, I think I'll prepare a new one for the end of 2015 - or maybe even before...

If you could assemble a soundtrack for your work until now, which musicians would you include immediately?

Röyksopp, soundtracks of fantasy movies, Daft Punk and others. 

Which young artists do you follow currently? What do you like about their work?

I follow Zemotion (Zhang Jingna), whose work I like for the "painting" look of her pictures, Kiki Xue, for the deep atmospheres portrayed in his photos and a few other photographers, too!