Monday, July 14, 2008

interview • talia chetrit

i heart photograph: these images suggest a thinking-through of photography's relationship to color as light. could you talk about how you use light and color in your work?

talia chetrit: i am intrigued by the recurring artistic impulse to look at light, space, and color and to challenge our ideas and expectations of the way these phenomena behave. some of my subjects are created through the act of photographing. i paint with light, recording invisible gestures onto film. others are illusions of or metaphors for light and time.

primary colors flashed at white and primary colors flashed at black are the materialization of the light created by three strobes, each covered by primary-color gels (red, yellow, blue), flashed at the same time onto either white or black paper, as said in its title. the result is a wash of secondary colors. these photographic experiments resemble color field paintings by morris louis and jules olitski and are effectively a subtle crossover between the two mediums of photography and painting. as gerhard richter explores painting through photography by making photographic paintings that use shallow depth of field, a quality usually found in lens based mediums; primaries show the correspondence between photography and the tradition of abstract painting.

i.h.p.: abstraction, minimalism, and color theory all play a part in your work. could you talk a bit about what are some impulses behind your photographs, and how you see yourself in (or not in) these traditions?

t.c.: it is the limitations, expectations, and classification of photography that inspire this work. the title of the series is called ‘reading,’ a reference to the moment of interpretation of visual stimulus. i experiment with perception to create direct and straightforward photographs that are ambiguous and unidentifiable. i use very basic techniques, such as playing with light, focus, and depth of field, along with tools like scanner beds and lens filters to explore the spectrum of perception and analyze the photograph. this allows me to me play with expectations. the fundamentals of the medium—light, optical space, and time—are the subject matter. the result is a series of abstract photographs.

my photographs often don’t look like photographs though nothing is altered in photoshop. this apparent ambiguity and this contradiction in appearance are of interest to me and lead me to believe that deception may be the only true characteristic of this medium.

i have been inspired by experimental photographers like alvin langdon coburn and laszlo moholy-nagy. i challenge myself to look at the medium, as my predecessors did, and attempt to re-position photography as a practice that is without definition. it is manipulation.

[photos: (top) primary colors flashed at black and (bottom) primary colors flashed at white by talia chetrit. see more of talia's work here.]

interview by nicholas grider