Category Archives: Atlanta

“The way that I remember things”: An Interview with Photographer Matthew Terrell

"You're a Mess," Matthew Terrell (2016), 12 x 31, archival ink on duratrans polyester film

“You’re a Mess,” Matthew Terrell (2016), 12 x 31, archival ink on duratrans polyester film

The Atlanta- and San Francisco-based photographer and writer Matthew Terrell currently has his sensual second show, “The Exquisite Corpse of Film Photography,” featured in Whitespec. I sat down with Terrell on a windy Saturday in mid-November to speak about double exposure, memory, and Surrealism—a conversation frequently interrupted by our fascination with the autumn light and shadow moving across the gallery floor.

—Whitespace intern Nathan Blansett

Nathan Blansett: Your current installation, which is in Whitespec, is a series of photographic works. How did you arrive at the formal process specific to this work? Could you name that process and talk about what it involves?

Matthew Terrell: Well, I’ve never really had a nice digital camera, like the Canon and the Nikon, the big ones that everybody uses these days. I’ve always had a Pentax K1000, which I’ve had since high school. So I’ve been shooting film for a very long time and I’ve been keeping it up.

Probably about 2012, something went wrong with the winding mechanism of my camera, and it wasn’t winding the film back all the way, so it was causing some of the images to be double exposed on each other. And I really liked the way that looked—it was such a surprise, and I thought the images were just so dynamic and so interesting that I decided to recreate it myself. And at the time I also really wanted to take a lot of pictures but couldn’t really afford to use up a lot of film, and so if you double expose film, it’s a way to take twice as many pictures [laughs] and only pay for one roll of film, which is a really silly thing to think about, but it lets me take more pictures. So it really just developed as a fun practice, a way for me to develop my skills.

I really think about just what is the most beautiful thing that I can take a picture of. How can I frame it, crop it, light it, in order to bring it to its…whatever it is. Whether it’s a fire hydrant or a Corvette or a Schnauzer—how can I take the most perfect picture of it, knowing that it’s going to get double exposed over, so I don’t really know what it’s going to look like […] and that’s freeing. It allows for some play and some fun and I’ve kept it up ever since.

I think what’s really fun about it—what you see in this show—is that they end up basically being long strips of continuously double exposed images. So I get to scan those long strips and print them like that, which is really interesting. […] You don’t see a lot of that.

NB: How do you think that complements the thematic aspects of work?

MT: I think that it’s really interesting to see it the way it’s printed, because I’ve got it with the frame breaks, I’ve got it with the sprocket holes and it’s got numbers on it, so it almost looks like a movie reel. I call them little cinematic stories. It shows the process because you’re really seeing my progression, usually on foot, through an area as I’m exploring a subject—whether it’s like the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco or if I’m just spending an afternoon with my friend Brigitte Bidet. You get to see all those sorts of things that I see through my lens as I progress through it because it really doesn’t matter the order in which I see it, because you see it in the order on the strips of film. But then you see two different moments exposed over each other. I would almost compare it to, like, you’re going on vacation, and you have these memories of, “I did these series of things in one afternoon and I did these other series of things in one afternoon,” but everything kind of starts to blend together in your memory.

NB: Yeah, memory is not that linear.

MT: Yeah, it’s linear and not linear at the same time. It’s reflective of the way that I kind of remember things. Both series and things start to blur together. So that’s a reflection of what’s going on inside my mind as well. With these images here […] sometimes I’ll add color lenses or prism lenses to my camera, but I didn’t in this show. These are all pretty straightforward. The composites that you see, they are taken directly from the strips of film. I’m not going into Photoshop and laying them over. Pretty much it’s just scanning them and doing a little color correction, and then sending them to the printer.

NB: I’m curious as to who your direct influences are—not just for this work, but as an artist, who you’re turning to, who you think is informing your work and your process?

MT: Definitely Arthur Tress. He’s actually a friend of mine, and I was actually with him when I was shooting some of these photos. He is what I would call a “surrealist documentary street photographer.” He had actually encouraged me to print the work like this and have a show like this, with the long strips of film, with the sprocket holes and everything. So he’s definitely my first influence. When you look at Arthur Tress’ work, there’s definitely a surreal undertone to it. He’s got a very surreal photographic eye.

And Keith Haring—he’s just a really awesome artist. I don’t know thematically or technically what kind of an influence he has on me, but whenever I see a Keith Haring piece of art, I’ll photograph it, and there’s actually two separate pieces in [“The Exquisite Corpse of Film Photography”] that have Keith Haring objects in them. One’s got the Keith Haring altarpiece from Grace Cathedral, and another is Dancing Figures, which was in front of the de Young in San Francisco.

Duane Michals, for sure. He came actually for Atlanta Celebrates Photography, and I regret not getting tickets. But he’s definitely a photographer that I look at because he actually has series of images that tell a story, like four images in a set that tell a story. And I think about that sometimes when I’m choosing images—how does the progression of what I show tell a story somehow?

NB: How would you see your work, not just this project but your work as a whole, engaging with a particular tradition in visual art, not just photography, perhaps a queer tradition or an aesthetic one?

MT: You know I think I’m definitely a Surrealist. Surrealism is not taught right now, but it comes and goes in waves every once and awhile. I think we’re actually kind of due for a new wave of Surrealism. I feel like with photography right now, it’s what I call “hyperrealistic documentary photography”—it’s very political, very theoretical, very theme-driven. But what I’m interested in with Surrealist photography, it’s really about the process, it’s really about the aesthetics of it; making, for me, something that’s just beautiful to look at, something that’s interesting to look at. When you look at a Surrealist work, it’s really interesting because you can look at it time and time again and see something new every single time. That’s something that I want in my own work. I will walk by the photos and notice little details that I have never noticed before. I find that a very interesting quality for artwork. I find it something that makes me want to enjoy it and produce work like that more.

Definitely, I look back more towards older photographers. Both Duane Michals and Arthur Tress are queer photographers from the ‘60s and ‘70s who did black and white and traditional photography. So I think there’s definitely some queer and classic influences in there.

I’m very interested in the artisanal archival analogue processes, simply because they’re just different—and this is a silly thing to say, but even though you know it’s really expensive for me to do it, when I pay to have [the work] developed, I get prints back. So I have prints of everything I’ve done. And I know a lot of photographers who have fancy digital cameras and they don’t have a single print. I’ve got scrapbooks, thirty scrapbooks on my shelves of photos, and boxes and boxes of prints. It’s really important for me to actually have the item, for the item to exist not just digitally, not just on my computer, but in some sort of real world context.

NB: Absolutely—it’s an object, not just a file.

MT: Yeah. I’ve always been someone who very much values giving people prints. Usually at the end of every year, I do this huge project where I will go through all my photos from that year and pull out the ones that I want to give to people. I have, like, all these giant piles, “Camille” and “Ted” and “Jason.” I go through hundreds of photos and sort them out and I’ll sign them all on the back, and I really try and label them all on the back as well. So I’ll say when it was taken, what it is, where it is. That’s usually my Christmas gift for the year. That’s another reason that I do film-based photography, because I get to do that.

I’m always really surprised by the different things people pick up on, the different things people are drawn to. Different people like the words “Hot Cookie,” different people like some sections that are more formalistic, they’ve got ferns and fountains on them, they have very strong lines. Some people really like that because it’s more graphical. Some people like the more soft elements, like the candles. I think that part of the fun of the process is that I sort of get to allow graphic elements and soft elements, things of design and things of color and shape, all these things that—you know, if I was just what I would call a “straight photographer,” just regular photography, you might not get to play with all those different elements in one. But in this case, in these photos, you can have all of them, all the different elements. So there’s something for everybody. That’s something I like—something for everybody and you can constantly look at it and find something new. That’s really fun.

Matthew Terrell’s “The Exquisite Corpse of Film Photography” is at Whitespec through Saturday, November 26.

Abstraction Today

The exhibition, Abstraction Today, at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA) opened Friday night at 6:30 p.m. The most prestigious and prominent art galleries in Atlanta compiled the artists’ works and the opening was filled with guests, a bar and merriment. Whitespace had the honor of participating in this collaboration with Alan Avery Art Company, Marcia Wood Gallery, Mason Fine Art, Sandler Hudson Gallery and {Poem 88}. With pieces from Pete Schulte, Ann Stewart, Bojana Ginn, Eric Mack and Seana Reilly, whitespace’s artists augmented the exhibition incredibly from wall paintings to 3D printed objects to sculpture. In conjunction with other artistic selections, the show was a congruent and diverse examination of what abstract art is in today’s contemporary world.

Though each artist presented their own negotiations of what it means to be abstract, the entire collection of art offered an exceptionally harmonious exhibition. whitespace artists in particular not only showed work that charged the white walls of MOCA GA, but also formed a coherent representation of the free-expression, intimacy, dialogue, and immersive environment whitespace strives to represent. The looming grace of Schulte’s wall painting alone overwhelmed the northern wall of one room, but reflected against the colorful and overwhelming wall work of Hense, added great contrast to envelop the night’s crowd.

IMG_8082Dark Day (Revelator Pt. 2), Pete Schulte, 2016

In a smaller room to the side, an installed projector and sculpture made of straws, paint and cotton by Ginn mirrored the pixelated, almost urban abstract landscape of Mack’s multi-medium work. Beautifully and breathtaking, Stewart’s 3D printed objects cast long and opaque shadows against the white walls of the space as one of the first works in view of the entrance of the exhibition. Across from Stewart, Susannah Starr’s large floral and vibrant neon cut-outs refracted the light via their own technique, presenting a delightful juxtaposition of shadow play for Stewart’s objects. And Reilly’s floor to ceiling canvases overwhelmed what was left of the room with their ombre and bleak exploration of gradient and texture.

IMG_8085
Diamagnetic Liaison, Ann Stewart, 2016

What was best about Abstraction Today was the physical manifestation of the diversity and talent that can be found in Atlanta. Each artist’s work illuminated an aspect of its neighboring pieces and vice versa. The space was filled with detailed conversation, immense artistic exploration and wonder. The exhibition’s navigation of what it means to be abstract is a testament to the greatness of today’s contemporary art, not only in the world, but right here in Atlanta. From modern advances in technology, projection and 3D printing, to wall-painting, traditional sculpture and manipulation of found objects, the exhibition is a beautiful tapestry woven by the many threads of experimentation, risk, exploration and abstraction today.

Written by: Hilleary Gramling

The Bear, Faulkner and Territories/Kingdoms by Mimi Hart Silver

Often, in the world of creativity, different imaginative mediums serve to influence each other. Pablo Picasso’s work heavily influenced architecture through his principles in Cubism, especially in the Czech Republic. Buildings like the Hodek Apartment House reconcile Picasso’s revolutionary findings of art with architecture and local tradition. Similarly, artists like Marina Ambramoviç and Ulay combine experimental concepts with artistic performance and body art. Even here, in our very own artistic space, Poetry has wandered into visual artistry (if you recall our whitespec show in the summer months, Pathways, by Nicole Livieratos — Livieratos utilizied words of poetry in her installation). Among these few examples, Mimi Hart Silver’s work is no less of an important notch in the belt of influenced and combined art forms.

During our Saturday Salon two weeks ago, many Atlanta locals gathered together to understand and discuss the influences of William Faulkner’s work on Silver’s exhibition. Lead by Faulkner scholar Tom McHaney, the talk covered topics from Faulkner’s life, his writing of The Bear as well as Silver’s own attraction to the famous author’s words.

In Territories/Kingdoms, Silver examines her roots as a Southerner, presenting 2D work across multiple mediums, all in conversation. Paper has been manipulated to resemble hide or skin. These fragments are patched together to convey an illusion of an aerial standpoint, geographic landscape and crude map-like visuals. Paired with classically rendered abstract oil paintings detailing blurred images of a bird hunt, the result is an eerie and haunting portrayal of biological and hierarchical divisions. As discussed during the Salon, Faulkner’s attention to that of the primitive, the raw, the survivor, are all notions brought up in the viewing of Silver’s works.

McHaney brought images of drawings created by Faulkner in his early days. Providing insight into Faulkner’s writing by reading an excerpt from the text of The Bear, McHaney enchanted the crowd with the lore-like style of Faulkner’s distinct prose. Posing questions to Silver about the nature of her work, a discussion of themes (common between Silver and Faulkner), relating to the rough characterization of Southern indifference, were addressed. The attention to the South: as a place of deep-rooted tradition, a place charged with violence in the animal hunt and in ways of life, and a place where the nature of human instinct in terms of trauma comes to fruition, provided insights into human tragedy as a coping mechanism. Silver’s articulation of Faulkner as a key influence in her work through his reverence for the wild, the untamable, the deepest animalistic drives, was key in achieving a deeper understanding of Silver’s work.

McHaney’s insights to Silver’s explanations not only illuminated the works being shown at whitespace, but also provided a closer look at trauma and memory. Silver’s images of wings, legs, breasts and animalistic body part roped together in the aftermath of carnage and the permeation of violence, were augmented by a discovery of Faulkner’s work as an articulation on survival in the wild. The discussion of both Faulkner and Silver’s interests in the continuum of life and death, charged the gallery space with curiosity as all participants stepped into the search for meaning in human tragedy for a brief time, together.

Written by: Hilleary Gramling

Photos by: Sierra Cortner

 

 

 

Artist Spotlight: Tommy Taylor on Working in Film as a Scenic Painter

“Ya see all them pink and orange tubes inside there?  … Well, they’re explosives”

You couldn’t pay me to get up every day at 5 in the morning and drive 30 miles to a dirty warehouse for a job…or so I thought. But, that is what I have been doing for the better part of the past 6 months. Traffic at this hour is nonexistent, the intersection at Ponce and Moreland/Briarcliff -generally a hideous place to be at any hour of the day – is just a blip in the rear view mirror at 5:30 a.m.

I am beginning my third feature film as a scenic painter. Continue reading

whitespace Artists Meg Aubrey, Matt Haffner and Seana Reilly “E-merge” at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport

“To emerge is to come into existence, to become evident, to come into sight or view.”

Meg Aubrey, "Lost," oil on canvas

Whitespace artists Meg Aubrey, Matt Haffner and Seana Reilly are currently on view in the T-gate Exhibition Gallery at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson Airport as part of E-Merge: Contemporary Atlanta Artists at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. Curated by Hope Cohn, this exhibition contains over forty works by Atlanta artists in a variety Continue reading

Sarah Emerson and Jody Fausett in "Day Job: Georgia" at the Contemporary

Sarah Emerson and Jody Fausett are currently part of the “Day Job: Georgia” exhibition at the Contemporary, which is up now through March 24, 2012. 

Sarah Emerson and her daughter, Harlow Cregar, have a site-specific installation and mural.  Be on the look out for Sarah’s upcoming solo show at whitespace, which opens Thursday, April 5, 2012 at 7 PM.

Sarah Emerson and daughter Harlow Cregar at “Day Job: Georgia.”      
Photograph courtesy of BurnAway Flikr photostream

Jody Fausett, who had his solo exhibition at whitespace this past November, selected several of his new photographs for the Contemporary’s show. 

Jody Fausett’s work at “Day Job: Georgia”
Photograph courtesy of BurnAway Flikr photostream

For additional information about “Day Job: Georgia,” please visit the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center website.

BurnAway has posted several pictures of the exhibition and opening reception on its Flickr photostream.

"Morning Sun" by Benita Carr opens TONIGHT

Morning Sun

photography and video installation by

Benita Carr

Morning Sun is an evolution in Benita Carr’s work that explores the mother/child relationship and the meaning of self within the domestic social structure of home and family.  Constructed as narrative tableaus, the photographs depict women and their children in scenes that evoke emotions of desire, doubt and anxiety.
Carr’s photographs and videos are informed by the ways in which womanhood and motherhood have been seen, understood and lived across time, especially their representation in art, religion, advertising and family pictures. These themes coupled with the style and symbolism of Mid-Victorian images of interiors and feminine subjects inspire her body of work.  Moving into video and sound challenges the form of traditional portraiture and allows other layers of meaning and complexity to surface.
The title of the series Morning Sun is a play on words and lends itself to various interpretations. While reminiscent of the overly sentimental language inherent in greeting cards, other connotations invoke feelings of loss and despair.
Carr is the recipient of many awards and grants including a 2002 Artist in Communities Initiative Grant that consisted of a collaboration on a photographic installation with women who had suffered severe spinal cord injuries and the Joyce Elaine Grant Award from Texas Women’s University in 2004. She exhibited the Infinity Project, a symbolic commentary on the endless cycles of violence created with her husband artist Evan Levy, at the Tate Modern in 2007.  Her photographs were also included in the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center 2005 Biennial, the Huntsville Museum of Art 2005 Triennial and in 2009 at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.  Her work is part of the permanent collection of The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia.   

Exhibition dates:             January 13 – February 18, 2012  
 
Opening reception:
        Friday, January 13 | 7-10 pm
 
Gallery hours:
                Wednesday – Saturday | 11 am – 5 pm or by appointment 
                        
Location:                         814 Edgewood Avenue | Inman Park
Media Contact:                Susan Bridges
                                       www.whitespace814.com
                                       susan@whitespace814.com
                                       p 404.688.1892
                                       c 404.849.8176