Photoville is an annual photography shindig that invites curators, publications, and pretty much everyone else in the industry to come together and fill repurposed shipping containers in Brooklyn with amazing visuals. It has quickly become one of New York's biggest and most widely attended photo festivals since it began in 2012, and always offers up a diverse showcase of the medium. Also, IT'S FREE!
VICE: What made you want curate Objects & Subjects in 2015?
Claire Christerson: I was asked by [SVA photography professor] Stephen Frailey to curate the booth for Photoville with work of SVA alumni. He wanted me to work within the ideas of gender, identity, and body. It made me nervous at first, to have the responsibility of creating a narrative that felt like it was honoring the topics and bringing different views (hopefully) of how these ideas can be represented. I've never curated a show before, so this was an interesting new challenge.
What are some themes that sprouted up from the collection of artists you chose to highlight?
Each person's experience of body and identity is totally different in this show. Some similarities amongst the artists are the choices to go past the physical human form and explore what the body looks like through objects. What stays consistent in the show is the navigation of serious issues, but with a balance between playfulness and intensity.
What's some of your favorite work from the show?
That's a tough call because every work in the show is important to me. I'm really drawn to Logan Jackson's image Gel Test 1, of the people with prosthetics looking blankly at the camera because I love prosthetics and altering the body. Juniper Fleming's work is extremely conceptual and crafted. As part of a new project that she is developing, she has created an image of [serial killer] Aileen Wuornos and Medusa paired together, blending reality and myth. The photograph and her accompanying video emphasizes that Wuornos was persecuted so vigorously as a warning of what could happen to sex workers and other deviants. Zak Krevitt's photos become harsh and sincere human sculptures. Especially his image Atom-R, I love the way the bodies become so stoic and a balance occurs because one can't remain without the other. Ken Lavey's work is clever and puts humor into body relations. There's this moment of clarity once you are able to apply your own perverse thoughts to these objects that he's providing you with and invent new sexual objects that you never would even think to compare to a body. I mean the list goes on. This collection becomes little windows into many worlds and I feel lucky to know these people making work that I can relate to and appreciate.
A lot of the work of the work ties in very well to previous pieces you have done for VICE involving taking on fantastical identities and so on. Why do you think younger artists take on these different personas to express themselves in photo?
It's important and powerful to have outlets to allow yourself to shift from how others perceive you to how you see yourself and your community.
What are some past shows that inspired your curatorial direction for this show?
This summer while I was in San Francisco, Molly Matalon took me to a show at Fraenkel Gallery called The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, curated by: Katy Grannan. I enjoyed having to go through the show a few times to get all the information. I am not a minimal person, I like throwing a lot at people. Katy chose very different styles of work and made it all work together really well.
This show will be premiering at Photoville tonight and I can say a lot of it is some of the unique work I've previewed from the show thus far—what are your recommendations beyond this stellar collection?
I honestly haven't had a chance to preview much of the other work yet, but I saw a booth going up called National Geographic: Still Life. Its work by Rob Clark, images of taxidermy. I want to see those pictures. Taxidermy is interesting and gross to me.
Claire Christerson is a multimedia artist living and working in New York City. See some of her previous work for VICE here.
Photoville is opening tomorrow (postponed due to rain), September 11th, at 7 PM and is located at the Uplands of Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. It runs through September 20.