22 January 2009

invited guest & e-talk with Jason Lazarus

Jason Lazarus: "Greg's Geronimo portrait for the road" from the living with a portrait series.
Joanna: I've noticed pictures from "Living with a portrait" series from Jason Lazarus somewhere in the internet. They suddenly became very familiar and important to me. This series started some new ideas and questions. I've found Jason and asked him to answer some of these concerning documentary photography.

Fblog: For me “Living with a portrait" is a double attempt: artistic one and documentary one. Do you agree? What "documentary photography and "artist photography" means to you?
Jason Lazarus: The distinction is not important to me...documentary work leverages the idea of truth without being truthful...good art is truthful to the artist's intentions.
Fblog: As far as i know - you also teach photography. It's more about practice or about theory?
Jason Lazarus: It's about practice practice practice as an artist. For me, the word 'practice' includes elements of a work ethic, theory, art historical knowledge, life experience, sense of curiosity and intellectual vigor.
Jason Lazarus "The top of the chestnut tre7e gazed upon by Anne Frank while in hiding (Amsterdam, 2008)"
Fblog: What have you used during your practice: which theory have made a big impact on your work? What special events can define it?
Jason Lazarus: There is no theory that made a big impact on this project. “The living with a portrait” series started off with the picture of JFK on the pink walls… I made that image and it was 'an orphan' -- it didn't belong to a project. I thought the image was evocative -- Who in the world had pink walls and a JFK portrait in their bedroom? I know the answer, but I thought the lack of an answer was more interesting and opened up a dialogue that could be continued in other pictures. It seemed ripe as a serial project...
Jason Lazarus: "Lindsey's bedroom" from the living with a portrait series 2007
Fblog: What gives you the inspiration to work?
Jason Lazarus: A great and complicated question... My undergraduate degree was in marketing. I grew tired of marketing/consumerism/selling/advertising/etc... I went to graduate school for photography, because I wanted to make things not from a sales objective standpoint but from a very personal, idiosyncratic place. The satisfcation from making a piece within this framework is the ultimate in human nourishment for me.
Fblog: Interesting answer and story! But currently? For example what have given you the inspiration - why choosing this or that theme to work with?
Jason Lazarus: To be more specific, I am interested in 'charged spaces'... Places that have public or private resonance or significance. The LWP series is an example of these quiet, privately charged spaces. I want them to feel intimate and as real as they are...
Jason Lazarus "The back of an Ad Reinhardt" wright commission series 2007
Fblog: Is there any photographer/artist who made a great influence of your work?
Jason Lazarus: ...Gerhard Richter, Wolfgang Tillmans, The Dusseldorf School, Hirst, Whiteread, Maurizio Cattelan, Baldessari, Ruscha. In terms of younger artists I am thinking about: Amanda Rossho, Erik Kessels, Joachim Schmid, Harrell Fletcher, Greg Stimac, Walead Beshty, Claudia Angelmaier... These guys I think about a lot. They all have very strong voices--they all seem to work with a burning inner logic.
Fblog: I see little photography here. And it's a question of impossibility of dividing art now from photography?
Jason Lazarus: Yes. As much, if not more inspiration comes from non-photographers...
Fblog: And a tricky question - have you seen all these pieces of art - I mean have you seen these artists' works by yourself in the museums, galleries, or in the magazine, book, internet? Which medium you prefer? It’s the matter of reproduction-age.
Jason Lazarus: Half I've seen in person, half either online, in books, or in journals. It's all about consuming work whenever I can...going to see something in person, if I like it, tends to affect me for years, so obviously that is preferred!
Jason Lazarus: "Spencer Elden in his last year of high school (Jan '08)" Spencer originally appeared as a naked baby on the cover of Nirvana's Nevermind record.
Fblog: I would like to ask for details on "living with a portrait". Please explain what's going on there?(apart from statement) how many pictures were made to have this series? is it already finished? would you try to extend this?
Jason Lazarus: The project explores, for me, the charged relationship people have with images that they live with...usually framed images or ones given some kind of objecthood and placement that gives them physical/emotional visibility. If someone is attached to an image, I am interested in this immensely. I think of it as creating a self-portrait of the owner of the portrait by only showing the portrait. Further, I try not to show too much else...I don't aim to make environmental portraits of portraits...the less info the better... It seems to focus the viewer more on the inexplicable and committed aspects of the portrait/portrait-owner relationship. This series is ongoing...I am working on it slowly and am currently prioritizing other projects...

Fblog(joanna): thank you Jason for the e-talk.

Jason Lazarus "Jenny Holzer, over and over again (long exposure)" wright commission series 2007