I am not sure because I am excited about other art forms as well, I just love taking pictures, maybe it is something about a frozen moment that allows us to see so much more within it.
You started photographing yourself and your parents when you were 15 years old. How do you think the way you look at them and at yourself has changed over the years?
Photographing us made me learn more about myself, my parents and my relationship with them. from little subtleties to body gestures. I also feel that photography can be a dive into your subconscious at times, it can reveal much more than what you see at first.
Whether it be in your series Crisis or Pain, photography seems to have a very therapeutic effect for you. In retrospective, is there a time when you wished you hadn’t taken a picture?
No, I don’t think so. Most of the time, I don’t take pictures anyway, it’s not like the camera is always there at all.
How much of your work is staged and what are the differences you encounter when working with your husband, your parents and your children?
It is never staged but sometimes ‘arranged’ or I set it up in a way that feels more like a collaboration with them, for example I ask them to stay in a certain spot, to repeat a kiss, etc. but sometimes, when I’m trying to recreate a moment that I’ve just missed, another one ends up being created, something else ends up happening and I end up with a different photograph then the one I intended to take. I don’t think there’s a difference between snapshots or more staged images, both can feel very honest or on the opposite, completely faked. The truth is not guaranteed in any of the photographs.
You’re often compared to Sally Mann but I personally found you showed a rougher, “truer” side of motherhood. Do you sometimes refrain from showing a photograph of your children Eden and Emmanuelle because it is “too pretty”?
Yes, I do if they are “pretty only” and that there is nothing else about them, but then I send those to the grandmothers in Israel!
What is the photograph that you feel is the most intimate you’ve taken?
There are a few…’My belly after pregnancy and C section, 2004’, ‘PMS, 1997’, ‘My father and I, 1999’, ‘Haircut, 2004’ and some of my children’s images. Since most of the work regarding the children hasn’t been shown yet, I can’t refer to the images.
You often explained that your parents have the power of veto over your photographs, whereas your children don’t. Can you describe a photograph that your parents would not allow you to show?
No… That’s why I can’t show it, haha !
Could you photograph someone you don’t feel close to?
Of course, I do it all the time on assignments. I love photographing people, getting to know them a little. I try to create some kind of connection, acknowledging the limitation that comes with photographing someone you’ve just met and will probably only be given an hour to work with, and this will probably not go as deep as photographing someone you love and share your life with.
You teach photography. Amongst your students this year, is there a trend, a concept explored by many?
Fortunately I teach in the wonderful graduate program of SVA, where they really stay away from one trend or one direction and try to allow each student to go in the direction that feels right for her or him. Really ! And that’s not cheap promoting !
Who or what caught your eye recently?
The amazing film by Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan, I am so inspired!
If you had to explain to someone what Swill Children is, what would you say?
Swill Children is a project I facilitate that is largely collaborative. It’s a small press and record label and I also use it to facilitate online projects as well as events that occur in the physical world. The focus of the whole project has a lot to do with life, which I know is super broad, but what I’m referring to in life are the moments of sorrow and the moments of pure happiness. I guess it’s about purity and authenticity though they may not be fully desirable or incredibly appealing, for that matter. I think they’re necessary things to highlight.
The photography part of your website features portraits only, why? What do you look for in a subject?
To be honest the main reason it’s all portraits is because it’s my ‘commercial’ site. I tried to focus it to specific editorial type work rather than the other types of photography that I’m involved in. I guess I could start mixing it; I had a pretty specific edit coming out of school but fuck it, I’ll change it up soon I guess.
With Swill Children and for your self-published work as well, you seem to pay every attention to even the smallest detail. Since 2010 is coming to an end, what is the best book (either photography or art) you’ve seen this year?
There’s so much good material out there.. I can’t stick to one thing. One of my favorite publications that came out this year is called Crimson Hexagon. Andrew Lister and Matthew Stuart definitely upped the game with this. IFS, Ltd. is also a super amazing project by a group of great designers out of Yale. In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artists Since 1955 is another amazing piece. The new catalog for the John Baldessari show up at the Met is INSANE, so impressive. I can’t wait to purchase it. I don’t know dude. Too many good things out there! I could keep going but those are the first things that came to mind.
What do you think are the main differences between self-publishing and publishing another artist’s work? Do you find it easier to edit and work on your work or on someone else’s?
In a way they’re all the same thing, at least the way I work which is super collaborative. If it’s my own piece that I’m publishing I still bounce it off other people before it’s finalized and when I’m working on others’ works I try and have as much of a hand in everything, and vice versa.
If you could publish anyone, who would it be, and why?
On Xmas Eve I’m releasing a multi-part publication/project by Peter Sutherland. The publication has four components: a three color Risograph book of photos, in the center a laser jet/two color Riso zine of collages, and unique Riso prints on found newspapers, also the bag it all comes in is going to be designed and printed on and shit. It’s in an edition of 193, I have less than a week to make them exist physically. Wish me luck :) My friend Grant Willing and I put together a show at the last Showpaper gallery on 42nd St and 3rd Ave in NYC, that opens on January 6th. I’m also curating a small press show in Halifax the first week of February, I have two 7”s coming out in January and two full length LP’s coming out in March.