For nearly two years I have used a large format view-camera to photograph my friends and fellow artists. This recent work is often collaborative and always improvisational, hovering somewhere between documentary and fiction. The process I use is slow and formal. However, I try to shoot spontaneously as though I am on the street. I want to fuse the seductive power of studio photography with the energy and emotion of a snapshot.
I choreograph scenes of varying complexity in order to explore real and fictitious relationships and to consider such subtexts as desire, guilt, rivalry, and interpersonal disparity. I am also interested in how individuals relate to the camera itself.
Photographing allows me to stare. I watch and wait for sudden rupture on the psychological landscape. Meanwhile I use the colors and shapes of my locations to illuminate and intensify, or invent, psychological states. The narrative is deliberately ambiguous. I expect the viewer to fill in the blanks.
In some ways content is secondary to my obsession with photography itself. I question how photographic resonance differs from that of painting, film, and theater, while borrowing freely from the languages of these media. I also consider how advertising, pop culture, and propaganda use photography to seduce the viewer. I realize I am in constant competition with these for the viewer’s attention. I do aim therefore to seduce.
I also allow myself to be seduced. Left unchecked I fall in love with the images of my subjects. I stare at people and consume them by photographing. Maybe this is problematic, but I grew up molested by movies and TV. The media reached into my visual panties long before I was old enough to make informed decisions. Now I too prowl around in the dark.
- Amy Montali