In Remembrance: Khadija Saye, young photographer loses life in London’s Grenfell Fire

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LONDON — The world sinks heavily after learning about the rising death toll (at least 79 are dead, missing, or presumed dead) from the Grenfell Tower fire that took place early morning on June 14. As we mourn the loss of many, one of the confirmed victims was young artist, Khadija Saye, 24 who lived and worked on her photography from the 20th floor with her Gambian mother, Mary Mendy (who is also missing, and presumed dead).

The art world only saw a glimpse of what talent Khadija Saye displayed through her photography. Her wet plate collodion tintype series, Dwelling: in this space we breathe is currently exhibited at the Diaspora Pavilion during the 57th Venice Biennale. Saye described her series as an exploration of “the migration of traditional Gambian spiritual practices and the deep rooted urge to find solace within a higher power.”

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Khadija Saye self-portrait, from the series Dwelling: in this space we breathe © Khadija Saye, courtesy International Curators Forum
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Khadija Saye self-portrait, from the series Dwelling: in this space we breathe © Khadija Saye, courtesy International Curators Forum
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Khadija Saye self-portrait, from the series Dwelling: in this space we breathe © Khadija Saye, courtesy International Curators Forum
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Khadija Saye self-portrait, from the series Dwelling: in this space we breathe © Khadija Saye, courtesy International Curators Forum

Saye presented her final series Crownedwhich encapsulates Afro-Caribbean hairstyles, a project she began working on that expressed her Gambian heritage for her graduation project from UCA Farnham in 2013.

What aches the most is the inclusion of Saye’s mother in Crowned.

The portraits were taken in a makeshift home studio on the 20th floor; I recall with tenderness the tutorials during the making of this work, Khadija would burst in with work prints and talk with joy as she recounted her mother’s nervousness at being photographed

— Natasha Caruana, senior lecturer in photography at UCA Farnham, in an interview with the British Journal of Photography.

There is something familiar about being a student in photography, and turning to subjects that you know whole heartedly. More often than not we aim our lens inward to the ones who gave us life, and we appreciate them within a single frame, unknowingly documenting them for the world to see.

Khadija Saye and her work will forever be remembered. Let us not forget her kindness, her love of others stories, her struggle, accomplishments, her vision. She has left it all behind for us to remember and celebrate, and I hope it inspires our youth, especially young girls, to continue their art, to follow through with scholarships, and to never regret asking for help, or guidance. Collaborate, pursue mentorships, and above all, be proud of where you come from.

Rest in power, Khadija Saye. You are truly a source of inspiration to all.

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From the series Crowned © Khadija Saye, courtesy Nicola Green
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From the series Crowned © Khadija Saye, courtesy Nicola Green
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From the series Crowned © Khadija Saye, courtesy Nicola Green
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From the series Crowned © Khadija Saye, courtesy Nicola Green
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From the series Crowned © Khadija Saye, courtesy Nicola Green
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From the series Crowned © Khadija Saye, courtesy Nicola Green

All images appear under the British Journal of Photography’s obituary for Khadija Saye. Image credit is given to Saye’s mentor, Nicola Green, and the International Curators Forum.

Delphine Blast Captures the faces of Bolivian Womanhood in her series, Cholitas

Delphine Blast is a French documentary and portrait photographer based between Paris and South America. She has dedicated several works to the situation of women in Latin America, drawing in on the humanitarian dimension of life, while bringing out the emotional response and engagement of her subjects.

On a two month journey in Bolivia, Delphine discovered what it meant to be a cholita in today’s modern world. In the capital of La Paz she met dozens of cholitas and decided to honor the women by taking their portrait in a recreated photo studio based on backgrounds featuring traditional Bolivian fabrics.

A series of 35 portraits was born, entitled Cholitas, the revenge of a generation. The images highlight their unique outfits inspired by Andean traditions, but above all it reveals the women’s femininity, elegance and dignity.

Discriminated against for a long time, the cholitas are now very much a driving force in Bolivia. In scenes that were unimaginable 10 or 20 years ago, nowadays they have real clout in the economic, political, and even fashion worlds. The cholitas have managed to find their place in modern society without denying their collective past. They are an expression of the dignity of Indian populations.

Delphine’s photographic series aims to renew insight into Bolivian womanhood. It also carries new identity affirmations and reflects the social changes on the march in the country.

Take a look at Delphine’s stunning portraits below:

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© Delphine Blast. From the series Cholitas, the revenge of a generation.
Cholitas, la revanche d'une génération
© Delphine Blast. From the series Cholitas, the revenge of a generation.
FOTO INFINITUM | From the series, Cholitas, by Delphine Blast.
© Delphine Blast. From the series Cholitas, the revenge of a generation.
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© Delphine Blast. From the series Cholitas, the revenge of a generation.
Cholitas, la revanche d'une génération
© Delphine Blast. From the series Cholitas, the revenge of a generation.
Cholitas, la revanche d'une génération
© Delphine Blast. From the series Cholitas, the revenge of a generation.

Top Photo Events Happening This Week

This week, when it comes to photo related events, February is looking good. I mean, real good. With four photo haps featuring some of the most incredibly talented women to date, it’s hard to make it to them all.

I thought I’d soften all the FOMO by including an upcoming  Q+A panel discussion in April with the impeccable, Shirin Neshat. More info on that below!

Now on to the hard part, how will you be spending your photo weekend? I know it’s going to be quite the decision, but hey, at least I’ve taken out some of the dirty work for you.

Don’t forget to send in those RSVP’s!

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LA ART BOOK FAIR 
@ The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA | FEBRUARY 24, 2017 – FEBRUARY 26, 2017
Preview | Thursday, February 23, 2017 | 6–9 pm | $10 entry fee

Printed Matter presents the fifth annual LA Art Book Fair, from February 23 – 26, 2017, at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA.

Free and open to the public, Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair is a unique event for artists’ books, art catalogs, monographs, periodicals, and zines presented by over 300 international presses, booksellers, antiquarians, artists, and independent publishers. Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair 2016 saw over 35,000 visitors over the course of three and a half days.

Printed Matter’s LA ART BOOK FAIR is the companion fair to Printed Matter’s NY ART BOOK FAIR, held every fall in New York. In September 2016, over 39,000 artists, book buyers, collectors, dealers, curators, independent publishers, and enthusiasts attended Printed Matter’s NY ART BOOK FAIR.


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(RE)PRESENT Q+A Discussion Panel
@ Las Fotos Project | FEBRUARY 25, 2017 6PM – 8PM

Join Las Fotos Project on Saturday, February 25 for a panel Q+A with four well-known black female photographers: Oriana Koren, Kayla Reefer, Dana Washington and Sophia Nahli Allison.

The conversation will be centered on the experiences, challenges, and triumphs of black women photographers and their relationship to their craft. Our wonderful panelists will discuss how their intersecting identities impact both their photographic subject matter and their professional career.

The discussion will highlight the need and importance of black women’s visibility in photography, the challenge of diversifying representations of “blackness” and traditional representations of black communities in mainstream media.

Following the moderated portion of the panel, audience members will have an opportunity to ask questions to panelists during the Q+A.

This community event is free, but please RSVP at www.lasfotosproject.org/RSVP.

You can also read my interview with Dana Washington on her portrait series Awa here.

Las Fotos Project is located on 2658 Pasadena Ave., Lincoln Heights, CA 90031


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ICONS by Parker Day
@ Superchief Gallery | FEBRUARY 25, 2017 1PM – 10PM

Superchief Gallery LA took on the solo exhibition of 100 portraits by photographer Parker Day. Her images from her series ICONS burst forth from the seamy underbelly of life in an explosion of lurid technicolor with a cast of characters played by club kids, internet personalities, and self-professed freaks. The un-retouched grit and grain of 35mm film packages fantastical content in palpable reality. Identity, and our ability to shape how we’re seen and in turn who we are, is central to the work. It’s communicated through costuming, symbols, and the emotional language of color, to connect in an intuitive and direct way that transcends artifice.

Parker Day began shooting ICONS in July, 2015. Images from the series have been featured in The New Yorker, Juxtapoz, Vice, i-D, and Dazed. Although selections from ICONS have appeared in international media and group shows, Superchief Gallery LA is the first to exhibit the complete ICONS series.

Visit the work of Parker Day during her closing reception before it’s gone!


 

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FRIDA KAHLO  HER PHOTOS
@ The Bower Museum | FEBRUARY 25, 2017 – JUNE 25, 2017

Frida Kahlo – Her Photos offers an intimate glance into the life of one of the world’s most beloved artists. Throughout her life, Kahlo meticulously collected over 6,000 photographs of loved ones as well as scenes of Mexican culture, politics, art, history and nature.

These photographs were taken by many renowned creatives of the time including Edward Weston, Tina Modotti, Lola and Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Martin Munkácsi, the artist herself and others. After her death, the collection was locked away by a grieving Diego Rivera in Kahlo’s Mexico City family home, Casa Azul or the Blue House. More than fifty years later, this treasured collection was revealed to the public. Curated by the distinguished Mexican photographer and image historian Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, Frida Kahlo – Her Photos presents 241 of these photographs, all of which are the first and only prints made of the originals.

The Bower Museum is located on 2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, CA 92706


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AN EVENING WITH VISUAL ARTIST SHIRIN NESHAT
@ Bovard Auditorium | APRIL 25, 2017 at 7PM

Shirin Neshat, born in Iran and based in New York City, is one of the most prominent living artists in the world. Her work probes issues of gender, power, displacement, protest, identity, and the space between the personal and the political. Neshat’s photography, video installations, and films have been shown at museums and festivals across the globe, and she has been awarded the International Award at the Venice Biennale, the Silver Lion for Best Director at the Venice Film Festival, and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize.

In a wide-ranging and inspiring talk, Neshat will discuss her creative process, how migration and living in varied cultures has affected her life and her art, and the role of art and freedom of expression in an enlightened and just society.

For more information, click here.

The 5 Iranian Women Photographers in ‘Art Brief III: The (Un)draped Woman’ You Need to Know

abiiiOn Thursday, February 9th, join LA based visual artist platform, ADVOCARTSY, in celebrating the opening of their third Art Brief installment entitled, Art Brief III: The (Un)Draped Woman. 

The exhibition features 14 artists of Iranian origin whose works speak to the timely and internationally relevant issues surrounding the representation of women. ADVOCARTSY’s founder and curator, Roshi Rahnama, is hopeful that the exhibition’s intent to encourage viewers to go beyond pre-conceived perceptions will help engender a new dialogue regarding the image of women in Iran and beyond.

Featured in this showcase are renowned photographers Shadi YousefianSepideh SalehiShadi Ghadirian, Gohar Dashti, and Tahmineh Monzavi.

Preview their featured works below:


SHADI YOUSEFIAN

is currently based in San Francisco. Yousefian’s mixed media work reflects and addresses issues that touch on universal themes such as loss, dislocation, alienation, and personal reinvention.

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Shadi Yousefian. Social Identity (2003). Photographic print mounted on wood panels. Image courtesy of the artist and ADVOCARTSY.

SEPIDEH SALEHI

is based in New York City and works in collages, paintings, printing, photography, and video animation. Her works revolve around the poetics of the veil, or chador, as well as stories from her country of origin.

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Sepideh Salehi. Mohr Portrait (2014). Photograph and frottage on Japanese paper. Image courtesy of the artist and ADVOCARTSY.

TAHMINEH MONZAVI

is a documentary photographer and filmmaker. Her body of work concentrates on social conflicts, contradictions and the young generation of Iran.

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Tahmineh Monzavi. Tina (2010-2012). Archival digital pigment print. Image courtesy of the artist, Robert Klein Gallery, and Azita Bina. 

SHADI GHADIRIAN

is a photographer residing in Tehran. You may have already seen Ghadirian’s sepia toned work in her series, Qajar.  Ghadirian’s imagery comments and portrays the contradictions between tradition and modernity for women living in Iran and dichotomies present in daily life.

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Shadi Ghadirian. From the series Be Colorful (2002). Image courtesy of the artist, Robert Klein Gallery and Azita Bina.

GOHAR DASHTI

mainly addresses social issues with particular references to history and culture through her photographs. Her practice continuously develops from life events and the connection between the personal and the universal, the political and the fantasized.

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Gohar Dashti. Odalisque (2014 – 2015), from the series Stateless. Image courtesy of the artist, Robert Klein Gallery and Azita Bina.

Art Brief III: The (Un)Draped Woman opens Thursday Feb. 9th at Arena 1 Gallery from 7pm to 10pm. ARENA 1 Gallery is located at 3026 Airport Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90405

Screen Printed Self Portraits of Photographer Zohra Opoku

Zohra Opoku is a German/Ghanaian multidisciplinary artist living and working in Accra.

With a keen and disciplined eye for textile and design, Opoku employees installation, sculpture, and photography at the helm of her practice. She conceptualizes West African traditions, spirituality, the thread of family lineage as they relate to self authorship and the politics of her hybrid identity.

A globalized social consumption and the commodification of all things African are a driving force in what Opoku sees as the nemesis of her thesis, and the relevance of cultural credentials within this state of being.

Have a look at her beautiful screen printed self portraits below:

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Zohra Opoku, Wisteria (2015).
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Zohra Opoku, Rhododendron (2015).
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Zohra Opoku, Pyracantha (2015).
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Zohra Opoku, Cyperus Papyrus, (2015).
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Zohra Opoku, Ficus Carica (2015).
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Zohra Opoku, Dicksonia Antarctica, (2015).

 

 

The Promise of Sublime Words by Ewa Doroszenko

Sent to us by Ewa Doroszenko, a visual artist based in Warsaw, Poland. Her project The Promise of Sublime Words started out as a means to show Ewa’s favorite statues she had learned about during her art history doctoral studies. Her time studying brought her face to face with many books on the Classical era’s sculptures.

Cutting out fragments of the images, Ewa incorporated platforms, and made small compositions of the elegant Greek gods. The ancient philosophers and leaders are treated like paper figures in Ewa’s distorted views.

Once Ewa finished her compositions, she would reshoot them and begin printing on a larger scale than the original to create a hybrid of photo sculpture works. Take a look below:

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For more images from this series, view The Promise of Sublime Words in its entirety here, and be sure to follow Ewa on Instagram.

6 Photo Books to End Your Year With

Have you been dismantled by 2016? Between the fractures of the political sphere, and the losses of major music icons like Sharon Jones, David Bowie, Prince, Juan Gabriel, Malik Taylor of A Tribe Called Quest, Leonard Cohen, Maurice White of Earth Wind and Fire, and George Michael, it’s as if the world wants to cave in on itself.

And if that wasn’t enough to break our culture clogged hearts, we also lost actors and actresses we held dear like Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fischer, Florence Welsh of the Brady Bunch, Anton Yelchin, Alan Rickman, and Gene Wilder amongst many others, respectively.

Honestly, 2016 sucked. So to soften the blow I’ve rounded up 6 great photo books by women photographers who are sure to show us that this relentless, hard hitting year can still end beautifully.

Sonder
By Rossella Castello

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Sonder is a submission sent in to us by Italian photographer Rossella Castello, whose journey of asking an old woman named Violet for her portrait while in London led her to establishing authentic connections with otherwise total strangers. Yet the power behind creating a portrait led Rossella to four other individuals, each one subsequently leading her to someone else, creating an exponential effect on the young photographer.

Each book is a journey from beginning to end, from one initial character to many others.
Currently this title is out of print, but a new release of Sonder is soon to become available on Rosella’s website here.


L’Enfant-Femme
By Rania Matar

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What is a young girls connection to the camera? Photographer Rania Matar captures girls between the ages of 8 and 13, depicting them in deeply personal and poetic ways. Her book L’Enfant-Femme addresses themes of representation, voyeurism and transgression, all the while reminding us of the fragility of youth while also gesturing toward its unbridled curiosity and joy. Photographing girls in the Middle East and the United States, Matar makes us examine our universality, a beauty that transcends place, background and religion. Candidly capturing her subjects at a critical juncture in the early stages of adolescence, Matar conveys the confluence of angst, sexuality and personhood that defines the progression from childhood into adulthood.

L’Enfant-Femme is Rania Matar’s third book and is available for purchase here.


Cosmic Surgery
By Alma Haser

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Cosmic Surgery is an oddly whimsical filled 48 pages of delightful origami pop up portraits photographed and hand crafted by none other than Alma Haser. Her process involves three steps: photographing the subject, printing multiple copies of the portrait for origami making, and finally re-photographing the work with her origami set in place to create the final image.

With the simple act of folding an image, or ‘origamify’ as Alma puts it best, she is able to transform each face into something of her own creation.

Purchase Cosmic Surgery here for me, for a friend, or maybe even for yourself.


Looking For Alice
By Sian Davey

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Looking For Alice is the powerful award-winning project by British photographer Sian Davey, which tells the story of her daughter Alice and their family. Alice was born with Down’s Syndrome, but is no different to any other little girl or indeed human being. She feels what we all feel. Their family is also like many other families, and Sian’s portraits of Alice and their daily life are both intimate and familiar. “My family is a microcosm for the dynamics occurring in many other families. Previously as a psychotherapist I have listened to many stories and it is interesting that what has been revealed to me, after fifteen years of practice, is not how different we are to one another, but rather how alike we are as people. It is what we share that is significant. The stories vary but we all experience similar emotions.”
Own a signed hard copy of Looking For Alice via Trolley Books.

Olive Juice
By Molly Matalon and Damien Maloney

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Olive Juice is a monograph made by Molly Matalon in collaboration with photographer Damien Maloney. Together they have created part road trip journal part romantic travel memoir, Olive Juice situates the viewer somewhere between the backseat of a moving car and the edge of a motel bed. Presented as a non-linear narrative of still life, portraits, and landscapes, Olive Juice explores notions of friendship, intimacy, and gender, and ultimately confronts the ambiguities of representation in photography.

You can snag a copy of Olive Juice via Vuu Studio


Intimate
By Lauren Crow

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In our popular media, we rarely view honest depictions of intimacy. Sometimes they scratch the surface, but often don’t go deeper and further. These intimate scenes (in popular media) tend to also be created with idealized people with idealized bodies, leaving many of us feeling unseen and unimportant. Intimate is an exploration of these relationships – be it a platonic friend, a stranger from the internet, a sexual partner (current or from the past) a deep love or something blossoming and new and all the relationships in between. The possibilities are abundant, ever changing and beautiful.

Intimate is Lauren Crow’s first book, and is currently available for purchase here.

Olga Wysopal

Sent to us by Olga Wysopal, a 25 year old student from Krakow, Poland.
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Olga best describes her work as a glance, a brief or hurried look, flash, or gleam of light.
Her personal search for harmony between light and place, light and people, dream and reality is the foundation of her photographs.

Monday Motivation : Tina Modotti

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Unveiling the Illuminous Work of MJ Katz

LOS ANGELES – The moment before I met with photographer MJ Katz, I downed two slices of pizza. I was catching up on her latest solo exhibition, So Long : So Far, a self-portrait series dedicated to the memories of loss from when her childhood home sold to a new family.

The exhibition at Infinity on West Adams ran from October 21st – November 5th, and marked MJ’s first solo show and photographic debut since her graduation from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena a year ago, but that’s not to say the photographer hasn’t been busy since obtaining her BFA. She displayed her first sculptural works entitled Precious Metals which included a set of Unwilling Participation Trophies for moments like cyber bullying, lock down drills, and student loan debt for the group show, Party Castle.

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In a way, the Infinity exhibition was like an anniversary of accomplishments from where it all began. Obsessed with the feeling that I had pizza crumbs on my face, I grabbed a few napkins and headed over next door to the gallery.

Inside, two girls scribbled their names on paper behind me, where I noticed a lock of neon blonde hair neatly tied in a braid on display. The images on the wall, a mixture of landscapes and closeup portraits, would immediately connect it to be the same hair MJ had during the time the series was made. A now tousled brunette, MJ sat in the heart of her work on a pair of wooden benches where she began to tell me about her photographic process. “All the images were shot in-camera,” she said in reference to the ghostly multiples of herself. Through well composed long exposures and MJ’s performative use of a flashlight, the end result is an eerie ethereal presence of the self.

When speaking about what shaped the series, I understood that formulating questions was the forefront of her process. “I’m interested in personal history,” she went on to explain. “History of place, history of object, of the things that we own and the places we go and the people that we know. What is actually there? 

We have these relationships to all these different kinds of things that form our day to day life, but what does it actually look like? For me, I think I’m interested in the challenge of what is no longer there, but you feel like it is. That’s what this body of work is about.

Put a flashlight in MJ’s hand, and she will create a dialogue of presence. “It says how long I was in a certain place, and where I was in this location, and so for two to three nights a week for about three and a half months I was let into the house by the son of the family who bought it, who I’m now dating, but that’s another story,” she smiled. “For whatever reason, I would head straight to my parent’s room first.” There MJ would unload her equipment to set up before gravitating on to the next room.

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Depending on the change and unfamiliarity of the rooms, MJ would start there. Objects left behind throughout the new owner’s home renovations suddenly became props for both the photographer and muse to interact with. One of those props ended up being a large mirror and paint bucket in what used to be her brother’s bedroom (pictured above).

I realized I was following things in the house that I knew wouldn’t be there for much longer. So in a way, I was chasing the things in the house that were moving and had the potential to be lost. Those were the things I held on to the most.

One shot in particular happened by chance in her childhood bedroom. During her time running barefoot around the house, painting with light, she noticed the yellow glow of her neighbor’s back light. Not one time during her being there did they keep that light on. “And I knew my neighbors,” she recalled about the happy accident. “I could have been like ‘hey could you keep your light on?’ but I didn’t want to. I wanted to approach the space with some structure.”

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Another portion of the work relies heavily on the photographer’s recollection of her parent’s divorce when she was in the 6th grade. “In the beginning of the series, I think it was very important for me to pay tribute to those moments by enacting them by using myself as a figure.”

In the below image, MJ Katz recreated the moment she would cup her hand to the wall to listen in as her parents argued in the next room. “I wanted to know what was going to make them separate. I knew as a child it was going to happen, for whatever reason I had that intuition, but I wanted to know why.” Countless times MJ’s brother would catch sight of her, and MJ’s presence shows that he was accepting of her curiosity, yet remained reluctant.

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What makes the series interesting to me is that you find it hard to discern when MJ isn’t performing for the camera. As both photographer and subject, having to portray a character, as well as directing the frame, is remarkable to know just how much presence is required within herself.

Photography can be both hard and easy at the same time to stay in the moment. When you have the ability to look at the screen of the camera, that stops you from being present.

“It’s the most present I’ve ever been while making a body of work,” she says in regard to spending nearly 3 hours each night walking through her childhood home. “But because the experience was so physical, and because I was counting the seconds of the exposure, I was in it. I would leave the house feeling like I had just meditated, and that’s sort of what I was doing.”

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Sitting beneath a cardboard frame, MJ wraps herself in light, while illuminating two figures standing at her side. The left sided figure is much different from the one on the right. We can see how the light creates movements encircling the womb, representing her mother, and the figure to the right steps in as her father. Rough traces of the flashlight add to the feeling of movement while an austere hand at the hip, combined with the styrofoam mess in the foreground alludes to the complications as to why we might find the photographer creating a space for herself at the center.

Since the completion of the series MJ still goes to her old house.

“Every Friday for Shabbat,” she laughed.

As if she never even left, MJ visits to see her boyfriend and his family.

“There are these moments that I’m experiencing that are very warm with the sense of family which I had always hoped would exist in the house after I left. It quickly became an experience of immense gratitude and appreciation for me. Right now I think it’s more important for me to live those moments than to photograph them.”

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When it comes to creating her next project, MJ remains unsure. “I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to feel so compelled to photograph something at all, because that’s when the best work is made. And it can be scary as a creative person waiting for that moment to happen.” However, she’s confident that the root of her work will be aimed towards memory.”I’m interested in the constructs of memory, how they are formed, and how they affect us.” Much like this series, and the expression of loss, MJ hopes to make work that showcases what is no longer there.

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MJ is inspired by the works of Diane Arbus and Nan Goldin. “With Diane you see her subjects and you don’t know what the relationship was with them, but when you see Nan Goldin’s, you know and she’s not just participating. That ability to convey relationships in a photograph was really important and inspiring to me.”

Saying goodbye to the symbolic moments of her childhood where they happened was paramount to MJ, to which she says, so long.

To view the entire series So Long : So Far, have a look on the photographer’s website here.


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