BFA Photography alumni Kambui Olujimi presents SKYWRITERS & CONSTELLATIONS, a solo exhibition at the Newark Museum. SKYWRITERS will premiere in the museum’s Dreyfuss Planetarium along with CONSTELLATIONS, a series of lithographs, debuting in the Garden Passage. Both works build on the narratives of Olujimi’s 2012 novella, Wayward North. Kambui Olujimi is a Brooklyn native whose multi-disciplinary practice calls attention to the assumptions that underlie our understanding of the world at large. The Opening Reception will be held on Saturday, November 3rd from 5pm – 7pm. RSVP ahead of time by emailing email@example.com with the Subject “Skywriters”.
BFA Photography Adjunct Professor Graham MacIndoe Announces Upcoming Exhibition at Contemporary Arts Center
BFA Photography Adjunct Professor Graham MacIndoe has recently announced that he will have an upcoming exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center located in Cincinnati Ohio. The Exhibition centers on MacIndoe’s photographs of the band The National and their evolving career from 2002 onward. You can read the announcement from the Contemporary Arts Center here.
The exhibition will run April 27 through May 27, 2018.
Irving Plaza, NYC 1/28/18
Thursday, April 19
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
The New School, Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnhold Hall
55 West 13th Street, 2nd Floor, Room I-202, New York, NY
“Picturing Addiction” is a part of the Confounding Expectations lecture series, which is presented by Aperture Foundation, and the Photography Program of Parsons School of Design at The New School.
As the current opioid crisis continues to make national headlines, this panel brings together three photographers who are finding new ways of depicting addiction: Nina Berman‘s decades-long project looking at the trauma of addiction and the healing potential of collaborative art; Edwin J. Torres’s photographs that show the effects of synthetic marijuana in his own community; and Graham MacIndoe‘s nuanced yet powerful series of self-portraits and environments taken during the years he was addicted to heroin and crack. At a moment when 21 million Americans struggle with addiction, photography now plays a key role in shaping our understanding of this crisis. Moderated by Paul Moakley, deputy photo editor of Time, this panel offers ways in which we can further the conversation beyond what we already know—that America is dealing with its worst addiction epidemic yet.
Participating panelists include Nina Berman, Graham MacIndoe, and Edwin J. Torres.
This program is supported in part, by the Grace Jones Richardson Trust and William Talbott Hillman Foundation, and by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State legislature, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and with additional support from generous individuals, including the Board of Trustees and Members of Aperture Foundation.
BFA Photography Faculty Graham MacIndoe is featured in the new article on Artsy As Opioid Epidemic Worsens, Photographers Are Finding New Ways to Capture Addiction. The article discusses opioid addiction and how photography documents addiction. MacIndoe is featured amongst photographers such as Larry Clark and Nan Goldin, you can read the article here.
At the end of the Spring semester, the Photography Program awards scholarships to selected BFA and MFA Photography students. Scholarships are awarded per year level (1st and 2nd year MFAs, rising Seniors, rising Juniors, and rising Sophomores). Non-majors and Photo Minors are not eligible for consideration. Submissions will be judged by a jury of full-time faculty. No late submissions will be considered.
FRIDAY, MAY 11 at midnight. Winners will be announced after May 30.
Submission guidelines can be found here
If you have any questions, please feel free to email; firstname.lastname@example.org
Aperture Foundation, in collaboration with the Photography Program at Parsons School of Design of The New School, is pleased to present an artist talk with Sam Contis. Contis is a California-based artist whose first book, Deep Springs, was published in May 2017. In Deep Springs, Contis uses photography as a tool to understand the landscape of the American West in both its physical manifestation and in its mythic connotations. Responding to canonical classic photographs of the American West, such as those of Carleton Watkins and Timothy H. O’Sullivan, Contis began photographing her own version of the West through the lens of Deep Springs College, a tiny all-male school in Deep Springs Valley, near the California-Nevada border. Founded in 1917, Deep Springs is an unusual school in that it encourages physical labor as well as intellectual curiosity—students study philosophy and literature, but are also instrumental in the running of the school’s cattle ranch and alfalfa farm. Contis became closely connected to the community of young men at Deep Springs, making intimate photographs that test our expectations about the way the American West is often represented and gendered. Contis’s young cowboys are gentler and more affectionate than the Marlboro Man or John Wayne; they seem to become part of the very soil of Deep Springs, forging a oneness with the historically feminized earth. Ultimately, Contis’s project focuses on age-old photographic questions about representation, identity, and performance. The images expand our visual vocabulary about masculinity and the way we relate both to one another and to our landscapes. Contis states of the American West: “It’s always been thought of as a place where one can try on new identities, reinvent or rediscover oneself. And photography has always been used as a tool to construct new ideas about place and self, especially in the west. In that way, the work is about photography’s own role in the process of coming to understand ourselves and our environment.”
Sam Contis lives and works in California. Her work has been shown internationally with recent exhibitions in Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Antwerp, and London, and solo shows at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, California, and Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery, New York. She is a recipient of the 2017 Nancy Graves Foundation Artist Grant, 2016 Aaron Siskind Foundation fellowship, and the Tierney Fellowship. Contis’s work is represented in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Yale University Art Gallery. Deep Springs, her first book, was published by MACK earlier this year, and has been shortlisted for the 2017 Paris Photo–Aperture Foundation First PhotoBook award. In 2018, her work will be on view in Being: New Photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Image: Sam Contis, Deep Springs (2017). Courtesy of the artist and MACK.
Free for students with ID.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2017 AT 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
The Auditorium, Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall
66 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10011
The Aperture “Elements of Style” panel is part of the Confounding Expectations lecture series, which is sponsored by Aperture Foundation, the Vera List Center at The New School, and the Photography Program of Parsons School of Design at The New School.
This conversation will focus on identity, style, and dress―the codes and politics of self-presentation. Panelists will discuss connections between self-portraiture and self-styling, decolonizing the fashion image, and the role of the queer archive in the fashion industry. The conversation will be moderated by historian and author Tanisha C. Ford.
Participating panelists include Collier Shorr, Nadine Ijewere, and Ethan James Green.
Read more at aperture.org/event/aperture-elements-style-panel/
Tuesday, October 10
Aperture Gallery and Bookstore547 West 27th Street, 4th FloorNew York, NY
This event is free for students with ID and Aperture Members.
Aperture Foundation, in collaboration with the Photography Program at Parsons School of Design, of The New School, is pleased to present an artist talk with Daniel Gordon. Gordon is a Brooklyn-based multimedia artist who uses collage, sculpture, and photography to create fantastical portraits, nudes, and still lifes. Critics have drawn parallels between Gordon’s work and the paintings of artists such as Matisse and Cézanne, yet Gordon relies on the camera to ground his art. Photography transforms Gordon’s often fragile and ephemeral tableaux into works with solidity and permanence. Gordon has remarked that in his early work he was preoccupied with creating images that looked real, but he has since become less interested in mimicking reality. As something of a modern-day Dr. Frankenstein, Gordon revels in fragmentation and fracturing, the crumpling of paper and manipulation of colors; he draws attention to the fact that Photoshop is very much a part of his process. However, Gordon will never altogether cede his work to the computer, he explains: “Without seams and faults and limitations my project would be very different. The seamlessness of the ether is boring to me, but the materialization of that ether, I think, can be very interesting.”
Daniel Gordon (b. 1980, Boston; raised in San Francisco) earned a BA from Bard College in 2004, and an MFA from the Yale School of Art in 2006. His notable group exhibitions include New Photography 2009 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Greater New York 2010 at MoMA PS1. His work will be included in upcoming exhibitions at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Boca Raton Museum of Art in Florida. He is the author of Still Lifes, Portraits, and Parts (2013), Flowers and Shadows (2011), and Flying Pictures (2009). He is the winner of the 2014 Foam Paul Huf Award, and exhibited his work in a solo exhibition at the Foam museum in 2014. Gordon is represented by James Fuentes in New York City and had his first exhibition with the gallery, titled New Canvas, in February 2017. He is the co-director of Downstairs Projects in Brooklyn, where he lives and works.
Kari Bjorn, a rising senior in the BFA Photo Program has been announced as the winner for the Tamron Spring Student Showcase!
To view Kari’s announcement visit here.
Andy Egelhoff (BFA Photo 17) was recently featured in GUP (Guide to Unique Photography) Magazine.
You can read the feature here.
Sam Lichtenstein, Andrew Egelhoff and Mika Orotea have all recently been featured in the recent Vice article “This Is the Next Generation of Great Young New York Photographers”.
To read the article please visit here
Iranian Fashion Blogger and Activist Hoda Katebi to speak at Parsons about her recently-published photo book Tehran Streetstyle, the first-ever in-print collection of modern fashion photography from the streets of Tehran, Iran.
Tehran Streetstyle provides a visual introduction to the Iranian underground fashion scene and the young people who play active roles in shaping and defining it. This book presents an alternative view of Iranians by challenging mainstream Western notions of Iran and fashion as well as domestic government regulations.
Despite mandatory conservative governmental dress codes, the women and men photographed in Tehran Streetstyle creatively express their identities through fashion. They break countless laws in the process, risking arrest on a daily basis. Many of those photographed are fashion designers in Iran’s burgeoning underground slow fashion movement, actively creating provoking pieces while integrating traditional Iranian designs.
The photographs in this book reveal how Iranians are redefining the beauty standards of the global fashion industry, offering an inspirational alternative to the skin-bearing and tight-fitting clothes that dominate the Western fashion industry. Tehran Streetstyle reveals how a young generation of Iranians are taking control of their lives and challenging conservative norms at home and misrepresentation abroad, transforming their society in the process.
Author and photographer Hoda Katebi is a prominent activist fashion blogger and graduate of the University of Chicago whose research focuses on the underground fashion movement in Iran and the intersections of fashion, gender, and nation-hood. In 2013 she founded JooJoo Azad (www.joojooazad.com), an online platform dedicated to the integration of ethical fashion and activism through an anti-capitalist, intersectional-feminist, lens. Since then, Hoda’s work has been featured on various media outlets, including Teen Vogue, German RTL news, NPR, and the Malala Foundation blog. Her work focuses on the power of self-representation and narrative through fashion, writing, and photography; challenging misconceptions about Iran and Islam; encouraging an ethical and minimal lifestyle; and celebrating beauty that extends beyond that which is narrowly defined by mainstream media.
She will be speaking on Monday, April 10, at 6.45PM in Kellen Auditorium (66 Fifth Avenue, Ground Floor). This event is open to the public.
Aperture Foundation, in collaboration with the Photography Program at Parsons School of Design, of The New School, is pleased to present an artist talk with Tabitha Soren. Soren’s work centers on the aesthetic quality of both internal feelings and the photographic process; from aggressive crashing waves to capturing the expressions of someone caught mid-run, Soren’s work touches on emotions—anxiety, bliss, hopeless ambitions, motivation to succeed—that we all often feel. The end product is a photograph of quiet beauty that often contains an underlying tension between viewer and photographer. The tactile nature of her work can be felt when she stretches the medium to a point of abstraction, as seen in her tintypes of baseball players and the marks made on screens left behind by unknown users. These simple acts, such as touching a screen, quickly become beautiful collages that hover between the space of photography and self-reflection.
Tuesday, April 4
Aperture Gallery and Bookstore547 West 27th Street, 4th FloorNew York, NY
This event is free for students with ID and Aperture Members at the $50 level and above.
For more info visit the event page here
Aperture / Parsons Artist Talk: Nona Faustine
Aperture Foundation, in collaboration with the Photography Program at Parsons School of Design, of The New School, is pleased to present an artist talk with Nona Faustine. Since 2013 Faustine has gained widespread acclaim for her photographic work that examines historical narratives haunted by the black female body. Through self-portraiture, she at once reclaims sites in New York City where the history of slavery is built over while at the same time psychologically bringing forth this buried hidden past to the present.
Tuesday, April 18
Aperture Gallery and Bookstore
547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor,
New York, NY
For more info visit the event page here
Time | LightBox Memorializes Beloved Parsons Faculty George Pitts, who passed away this past weekend.
Members of the Parsons community contributed their stories and photos of George: including Elizabeth Renstrom (BFA Photo ’13), Eric Madigan Heck (MFA Photo ’09), Alex Thebez (BFA Photo ’11), and BFA Photo Director, Colin Stearns.
Read the full article here.
A memorial service will be held at Parsons in the coming weeks. Once plans are finalized, details will be circulated to the Parsons community.
BFA Photo Director Colin Stearns’ photobook Meridian named by photo-eye as one of the Best Photo Books of 2016.
Sarah Bradley writes:
Meridian is quiet and understated, straightforward in layout and small in scale but makes good use of those modest assets. It’s smartly designed. Intimately sized images appear and occasionally repeat, scenes are sometimes viewed from slightly different angles, sometimes printed lightly, making one unsure if the image is really there or if one is seeing the ghost of the photo on the reverse bleeding through. Images fade in and out. A figure appears on one page and then again on the following, but loosing distinction. Suddenly one becomes aware of the shadow of the image through the paper. The photographs move from coastal spaces to verdant ones to concrete and back again, but for me this book isn’t so much about that visual content. Images seem correlated with thought and feeling, the book unwrapping stream of consciousness style to reveal a solitary and heady place. I know this space well; I am often here – but never actually here. Stearns’ voice is well articulated and his Meridian is his own, co-existing as both familiar and foreign terrain.
APERTURE / PARSONS ARTIST TALK:
Tuesday, October 18, 7:00 pm
Aperture Gallery and Bookstore, 547 West 27th Street, 4th FloorNew York, NY
$5 DONATION; This event is free for students with ID and Aperture Members at the $50 level and above.
Aperture Foundation, in collaboration with the Department of Photography at Parsons The New School for Design, is pleased to present an artist talk with Tod Seelie. Embracing the subcultures of New York City and Los Angeles, Seelie’s work offers a raw glimpse into the underground ethos and often unknown fragments of these familiar cities. A world traveler, Seelie is attracted to the strangeness of situations, photographing a variety of people and happenings such as illegal, secretive parties in abandoned spaces; brutal DIY punk shows; the final voyage of Swoon’s Swimming Cities; and Bike Kill’s New York chapter. Alan Feuer from the New York Times writes, “Mr. Seelie has brought his camera—and, with it, his audience—into some of the city’s most unusual and arresting (at times, literally) happenings, while remaining true to the disturbing or evanescent nature of those happenings.”
Tod Seelie has photographed in twenty-five countries on five different continents. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Stern magazine,TIME magazine, New York Magazine, Rolling Stone,Spin, Juxtapoz, Thrasher, Vice, Der Spiegel, andARTnews, among others. His images also appear in the feature films Perfect Sense (2011) and Empire Me (2011). Seelie has exhibited work in solo and group shows around the world and at MASS MoCA and the Philadelphia Art Alliance. He published his first book, BRIGHT NIGHTS: Photographs of Another New York, in 2013. It was selected as one of the best photography books of the year by the New York Times, TIME magazine, and American Photo.
Image: Tod Seelie, Firework Run, 2012
APERTURE / PARSONS ARTIST TALK AND BOOK SIGNING: YANN GROSS
Tuesday, September 20
Aperture Gallery and Bookstore
547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY
This event is free for students with ID and Aperture Members at the $50 level and above.
Aperture Foundation, in collaboration with the Department of Photography at Parsons The New School for Design, is pleased to present an artist talk with Yann Gross. Gross’s photographs showcase the mysticism of humanity and the different ways in which we inhabit the world. Featuring subjects that range from young skateboarders in Eastern Africa to an Americanized community living in the valleys of Switzerland, Gross’s photographs delve deep into the notion of escapism and identity while continuously questioning our own misconceptions of culture. Masterfully constructed and controlled, his images offer insight into the lives of under-recognized societies. In his most recent publication, The Jungle Book: Contemporary Stories of the Amazon and Its Fringe (Aperture, 2016), Gross creates a visual experience of the diverse worlds that inhabit contemporary Amazonia. In the introduction, Arnaud Robert describes the disappointment of those who visit the Amazon in the hopes of finding an enchanted land: “Old-world expeditions have been replaced by all-inclusive trips and mosquito screens, the odor of the antipodes without their bitter taste.”
The Jungle Book will be available for purchase and a book signing will follow.
Yann Gross (born in Vevey, Switzerland, 1981) is a photographer, filmmaker, and designer who graduated from École Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne in 2007. Gross has received numerous awards for his work, including the PHotoEspaña Discoveries Week Award (2008), Photography Award at the International Festival of Fashion and Photography, Hyères, France (2010), and LUMA Rencontres Dummy Book Award for The Jungle Book(2015). Gross is a member of the international artist collective Piece of Cake and the cofounder of Canal GuaTeKa, an Internet channel created for indigenous youth living in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil.
Image: Turtle shell cap, 2012; from The Jungle Book(Aperture, 2016) © Yann Gross
For more information, please visit the Aperture Foundation website.
Please join us this Friday, April 22, for a one-night pin-up exhibit hosted by PHOTOFEAST. The event takes place from 7p-9p at 66 5th Ave, 3rd floor.
The bi-annual pin-up exhibit invites photography students from Parsons and across NYC to participate in a one-night event showcasing the work of emerging photographers citywide, and fostering dialog, connection and community.
PHOTOFEAST is a collective of current BFA Photography students founded within the School of Art, Media and Technology at Parsons School of Design. Their mission is to create a platform for interdisciplinary projects, critiques, screenings, exhibitions, and publications representing new perspectives and emerging insights of young artists working in photography and beyond.
Special thanks to Parsons Student Senate for sponsoring the event!
Matthew Jensen, Part-Time Lecturer at Parsons, has been named as Guggenheim Fellow in Photography for 2016. Jensen has taught in the Photography program at Parsons since 2012.
The Guggenheim Foundation’s announcement gives a comprehensive history of Jensen’s work and background:
Artist Matthew Jensen’s multi-disciplinary practice combines walking, collecting and rigorous site-specific explorations of landscapes. His projects strive to connect people to places by expanding the traditions of landscape photography to include a range of mediums and actions. Each body of work develops from time spent in publicly accessible landscapes or by examining the way different technologies transform this experience.
Walking and participation have been central to a number of Jensen’s recent projects. Walking Flatbush, is an artist-map and poster created and distributed in conjunction with Crossing Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Museum (2014). A Walker’s Guide to Chadds Ford, also an artist-map and poster, was the centerpiece of Jensen’s solo exhibition at the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania (2014). Both maps combine found objects, native plants, historical research, and anecdotes with logistical information. Jensen combined community participation, walking, history, and collecting in his exhibition The Wilmington Center for the Study of Local Landscape at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts (2013). The final installation provided an outlet for the work created by participants and also featured discoveries made by Jensen throughout the Wilmington park system. One series of photographs titled, Tree Love, documented the tree carvings and arborglyphs found in abundance along the Brandywine River. The age-old tradition was revealed to be a century-old subculture with thousands of carvings hiding off-trail on nearly every beech tree; a marriage proposal, poems, vulgarities, insults, countless hearts, and portraits dating as far back as 1903. Jensen designed and led artist walks in conjunction with the aforementioned exhibitions as well as for Storm King Art Center, the Municipal Arts Society, City as Living Laboratory, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Third Streaming and Elastic City.
New York City landscapes have been the subject of many of Jensen’s photographic and collection-based projects. The ongoing project Park Artifactshas been presented in various iterations in solo exhibitions on Governors Island (2010), at Wave Hill (2012), at the Queens Museum during his ArtBuilt Mobile Studio residency (2015), and in Brooklyn Bridge Park (2016). The collection contains over 6,000 artifacts found in plain sight during walks through parks. Historical objects like a Spanish Real from 1746, flint arrowheads, clay pipes, and trading beads mix together with objects as familiar as fishing lures and plastic toys. Ian Frazier, writing for the New Yorker, described the wandering process in an article titled Lost and Found (23 July 2012).
Light and landscape combine as metaphor in numerous works by Jensen. In 2009 the Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired his photographic seriesThe 49 States and exhibited it in After Photoshop: Manipulated Photography in the Digital Age (2012). The photographs were derived from months of exploring small towns in the early days of Google Streetview. The series is also in the collection of the National Gallery of Art where it was also exhibited (2016). Other works like The Sun Returning, 14 Hour Sunset and Rainbow Around the Sun were exhibited together at Yancey Richardson Gallery as part of Jensen’s solo show Feels Like Real (2015).
Matthew Jensen received his B.A. in political science and fine arts from Rice University in 2002. He worked on a number of national, state, and city grassroots political campaigns prior to receiving his M.F.A from the University of Connecticut in photography and sculpture in 2008. He is a MacDowell Fellow and has participated in residencies at the Queens Museum, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Wave Hill and Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. Jensen has been a part-time lecturer of photography and studio art at Parsons/The New School since 2012. He has also taught at SUNY Purchase, George Washington University and the University of Connecticut.
Sylvia Hardy (MFA Photography ’12), Magali Duzant (MFA Photography ’14) and Shadi Harouni (Faculty in Fine Arts) Exhibiting in Queens International 2016, the Queens Museum’s biannual exhibition of artists living or working in Queens, NY. The show highlights and contextualizes the artistic vibrancy of the borough through cultural productions in all media. The seventh iteration looks to the idea of thresholds and the way spaces for transition, contact, and exchange operate. These notions of borders and acts of border-crossing are also characterized by collaborations with Trans-Pecos, an alternative music venue, and Ayham Ghraowi, designer and creative director for the exhibition’s multi-outlet publishing platform.
The Opening Reception is taking place on April 10, 4PM – 8PM
Queens International 2016 is organized by guest curator Lindsey Berfond and Queens Museum Director of Exhibitions Hitomi Iwasaki.
Jesus Benavente and Felipe Castelblanco
Bang Geul Han and Minna Pöllänen
Xiaoshi Vivian Vivian Qin
Samita Sinha and Brian Chase
Trans-Pecos (with 8 Ball Community, ESP TV, and Chillin Island)
Gallery 3 presents “Empower”
66 5th Avenue, 3rd Floor
(Image by Hallie Turner)
This exhibition is a representation of what different artists, whose gender is marginalized in some way, find empowering for them. This exhibition takes place during Women’s History Month and collects works which demonstrate the importance of intersectionality in feminism.
Featuring work by current BFA and MFA students Alison Viana, Azzah Sultan, Cassie Basford, Elizabeth Hernarine, Gabby Pignanelli, Hallie Turner, Jeana Lindo, Megan Tepper, Nicole Vega, Roberto Rischmaui, Victoria Rickson, Vix Walker.
Organized by Vix Walker, Hallie Turner and Victoria Rickson.
Mark Fitton’s Intimate Photos of His Parents Explore New Paths for the Parent-Child Relationship
Read the full interview and see his work here: http://fotografiamagazine.com/close-mark-fitton/
Enter the most prestigious competition for creativity in photography, the Communication Arts Photography Competition. Any photograph first published or produced from March 2015 through March 2016 is eligible. Selected by a nationally representative jury of distinguished designers, art directors and photographers, the winning entries will be distributed worldwide in the Communication Arts Photography Annual, in print and digital editions, and on commarts.com, assuring important exposure to the creators of this outstanding work. As a service to art directors, designers and art buyers, a comprehensive index will carry contact information of the photographers represented.
Each winning entrant will receive a personalized Award of Excellence, milled from solid aluminum, and award certificates issued for firms, individuals and clients.
CA’s Award of Excellence is one of the most-coveted awards in the industry. If chosen, winning places you in the highest ranks of your profession.
Mark Woodward & Megan Paetzhold (BFA Photo) Discuss Transgender Transition and Gender Fluidity In “Lia” Photo Series
On Friday, March 4, 2016 BFA Photography seniors Mark Woodward (MW) and Megan Paetzhold (MP) will debut “Lia” at the No.4 Studio in Brooklyn, NY. The series depicts the transgender transition of Antonio Romero to Angelita, who goes by Lia for short. The exhibit, which was curated by Paetzhold and photographed by Woodward over a four-year period, will feature 30 prints documenting Lia’s journey through addressing the topics of transgender transitions and gender fluidity. The exhibit will show from March 4-6th.
By Terricka Johnson (TJ)
TJ: So, what made you want to do this project? How did you meet Lia?
MW: We were both freshmen at the New School. I knew Lia as Antonio for the first 3 months of our friendship and over the winter break when she publicly started her transition, I was captivated by that primarily from a photography standpoint. Those first few images were a really complex duality between really vulnerable and scared but also having this sort of confidence suddenly emerge.
It really interested me on a personal level and I think throughout the whole four years that’s been my ethos. It’s not so much a transgender transition. This story is more of just Lia becoming herself.
TJ: What was her reaction? Did you approach her or was it a mutual thing?
MW: She knew me as a portraiture photographer back then and I approached her wanting to shoot in the studio. Those first few images were really… I couldn’t put my finger on it – what was happening, but I knew something was happening. I was going to slowly work up the courage to ask, but she actually asked me. I think for a lot of people transitioning, they almost don’t want these moments of difficulty remembered, but what’s amazing about Lia is she’s seeing her story as very honest and wants it to be almost educational.
TJ: The first day you all shot, after you walked away from it, what was your initial thought from that day?
MW: It’s tricky because I wish I did, like I do now: sit down in a coffee shop with my Moleskin journal and document my emotions, but I was like 18 or 19 then, so I didn’t think it would be a big project. I simply thought it might have been a couple of shoots. I just remember feeling very intrigued. Those first few images were quite androgynous.
I think when you start shooting with someone the first time, at least for me, I think I always second guess “Oh, how is our dynamic? What’s our friendship like? Do those picture show that? Do they show attention?” So I think I was thinking more after those shoot “Oh, I hope I made her feel comfortable” as opposed to “Let’s critique the images”.
TJ: You’ve been shooting Lia for how many years now?
MW: 4 and a half years.
TJ: Over that, what kind of growth have you seen in her and the way that she sees herself now?
MW: Of course the physical changes were something, which is important to show but I think the images I wanted to show from her growth as a woman weren’t so much as purely glorifying and celebrating. I wanted to show the reality of it. Even when I knew her as Antonio, I remember Antonio being quite introverted, quite guarded whereas now I think there’s just this real inner confidence because she’s wearing her heart on her sleeve.
There are a lot of people who have transitioned or are transitioning or about to transition who I think really fight demons of “Do I go for it or do I continue this performance of someone I’m not?” It’s just so brave. I work with a lot of people in the military too and yes that’s brave and rightly so that gets the amount of media it does for people who’ve served in combat or any armed forces, but I don’t think people realize that bravery is not just a physical strength. That’s a huge point I’ve learned from this. How brave it is to be vulnerable.
TJ: When you stepped into this journey what were your initial thoughts on joining everything?
MP: Well, I’ve known the project for a while. I knew Lia when she was Antonio. Mark asked me a couple of months ago.
MW: Probably January
MP: January. He brought the idea forward of me curating because we’ve worked together in the past. I was just very honored because I know how important the project is between the two of them. And I liked the challenge of presenting this story in a way that more interesting than just A to B and focusing on the physical.
It’s not about once the surgery is done: “You’re a woman”. I wanted to focus on that inner transition and go a little bit out of the linear idea of it and make it a more nuanced representation of what you expect the story to be: Beginning, Androgyny, Surgery. Making it more complex.
TJ: Did you ever reach a hard point or have to have any kind of breakthrough?
MP: You mean editing?
TJ: Throughout the whole process, between the both of you?
MP: I think last Saturday? We had a good, long 6-hour working session. Because there’s a lot of images. Which is good—
MW: It’s an archive!
MP: It’s quite the archive. When shooting for 4 and a half years you would expect that. So going from a couple of hundred images, getting it down to 30. Trying to pick the best images to tell that story is a process and it’s hard but, once you get to that point where it makes sense and there’s nothing you want to change, that’s a really good feeling.
MW: It was something for me. I was in the project too much. I think I easy to pretend with the idea that you can be emotionally removed from things, but I think that’s total BS. If you’re going to shoot intimate pictures, if you’re going to have someone drop their guard for you, you’re going to get emotionally attached and I think that’s a good thing. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
Where she (Megan) curates, she gives you enough to understand but she makes it a much more personal reaction and I think that’s the mission objective with this show. We want people to have their own personal reaction to Lia’s transition. I don’t want people to see and just understand “Ok. This was January. This was February. This was March.”
MP: My goal whenever I’m sequencing and editing is to leave enough ambiguity for the viewer to sort of put themselves in it. And this was a really good project for that. And I think that cutting it down to it’s simplest bones to tell the story but giving you enough to grab on to makes it stronger.
MW: Yeah it was tough. This project’s been my darling.
MP: We had to kill a few photos.
MW: I think I’ve gone into from the start as it’s a friendship. Like it’s never been like “the project”. It’s always been that Lia’s a close friend of mine. We met when were at very key moments in both of our growth and development. I was 18 and she was 19. We’re both in New York City. She was studying theater at the time and I just came here to study photography.
I just think we started this whole thing at such a pinnacle moment of both of our lives and because she had such an unbelievable few years it’s always been more of a friendship. It’s been fun. It’s been really fun to just grow up with this person.
TJ: I think that’s very descriptive for a lot of people. Especially if you come to a city like New York when you can be a little bit more open about yourself. How do you think her background played into who she became and how do you think that shows in the pictures?
MP: You can see Lia’s progression in the series. You can see Marc’s progression as a photographer but you also see the progression of their friendship. And I think you have this mix of these very candid images and these studio portraits, it creates this… you don’t even need to know the background to get the story but it’s there. You can feel it.
TJ: How has your working relationship with each other kind of changed and grown through this process?
MP: We’ve worked together a lot this year. We have a good working relationship and a good friendship and I think that’s what makes it fun. I don’t work with projects I don’t like. If you’re not in it you’re not going to curate it well. This work is really strong. And giving me a pretty good amount of freedom has been helpful. It’s a collaborative effort but we have a very strict “share all of your opinions” policy and I think that’s been very beneficial.
MW: You collaborate with someone for their voice, for their style. You don’t do it for their skill set. I just trust Megan’s gut.
MP: If you like at my work and you look at Mark’s work it’s very different. But I think what’s the point of collaborating with someone who’s the same as you because you’re just going to make the same thing. When you work with someone who has a different mindset that you come up with something way more interesting than either of you could have come up with on your own.
TJ: So final question. If you had to describe the show in three words, the whole experience up to the exhibit.
MP: The show itself or the process or the series?
TJ: The whole process. Everything
MW: Layered. Honest, and Fun. It’s been really fun. And Lia’s going to be there. When I call her up I’m like “Are you sure you’re giving me all access to the images? I can show anything I want? I’m not holding anything back here”. She’s like “I want the story told”. I know seeing her in that space… yes it’s symbolic, brave and beautiful, but what fun to watch someone have this moment and have their last 4 and a half years celebrated.