Interview with photographer David Bert Joris Dhert

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Cary Benbow (CB): Why did you become a photographer? How did you start in photography?

David Bert Joris Dhert (DD): It must be my curiosity by nature that got me first into documentary film and later into photography.

I have always been taking pictures, but I feel I really started making photographs only recently. The making of my documentary, We Must Be Dreaming, for which I have been exploring Rio de Janeiro and its many faces parallel to the coming and going of the World Cup and Olympic Games, has made me think more profoundly about the language of photography compared to film and I picked up a creative urge to also photograph.

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CB: Can you please explain the idea behind your portfolio images submitted to this issue centered on the theme of Enthusiasm?

DD: I have been going to the gatherings of the black candomblé and umbanda communities in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro for years now to hear the music and witness the ceremonies. This resulted in the developing series ‘When The Gods Come Down’. The series is about transmitting life. For the people in the photographs, these gatherings are vitalizing and introspective moments. So I only photograph when I feel the time is right. Some projects simply require your patience before being photographed.

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The gatherings are intense experiences. Ceremonies of nine hours are not an exception, they go until deep in the night: singing, dancing, loud batuque (percussion), sweat, sand, blood and tears. At certain times, someone goes into a trance and then his or her soul is being taken over by the Gods and the Orixás. The spirits of the divine world then pass messages onto the others witnessing the trance. These messages commonly are formulated as a specific piece of advice for a decision the person who hears it is coping with. Observing these rituals made me think far beyond religion. It made me think about our proper nature. Why we develop formulas, why we write newspapers, why we make photographs. We all are storytellers and we all need stories. As lights in the dark.

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CB: Where do you get the ideas for your personal photography?

DD: I have been commuting between the two hemispheres over the last six years, living two lives at the same time, one in Brazil, one in Belgium, Europe. Half a year on the Northern hemisphere, half a year Southern hemisphere and so on. I would not recommend this for your personal life, but objectively this makes you watch your life from a distance very easily and it helps you consider your context and formulate specific ideas. The same way as reading books and watching theatre plays also set your mind to travel along the perception of the author. It’s all about changing points of view.

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CB: Who are your personal photography inspirations?

DD: There’s so many – but if I pick two in my state of mind today, I would say Magnum photographers Raymond Depardon and Josef Koudelka. I like the journey you make when you watch their work over the years.

CB: In your opinion, what makes a good photograph?

DD: Sometimes the best answer is in a question. I like photographs that make my mind work, give new air and new ideas. But the answer to what makes a good photograph comes from beyond reason. It’s a gut feeling, no theories or rules behind it. Photography being a language, and I like dialects.

Like the shell you take home from the beach, a film or a photograph recollects experiences. They are tracks of experiences in the search for ideas, stories, life and identity.


David Bert Joris Dhert is a documentary filmmaker and photographer based in Brazil and Belgium. For more information, and to see more of his work – visit www.daviddhert.com, and for his documentary film project, We Must Be Dreaming, visit www.facebook.com/wemustbedreaming

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Power and Politics @ Filter Photo

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Power and Politics
September 16 through October 22, 2016

Reception: September 25 | 5:30pm – 8pm

How does political power manifest itself visually and how much of its appearance is illusion, how much truth? When united, are power and politics dirty words, forces for good, or just the reality of life with a social structure? Juror Barbara Tannenbaum, Curator of Photography at the Cleveland Museum of Art, looked at hundreds of excellent submissions before deciding on a final 30 for this compelling and timely exhibition. The list of accepted artists is below.

Alejandro Acierto
Jasmine Clark
Gina Costa
Robert Drea
Whit Forrester
Tria Giovan
Lindsay Godin
Daniel Gonçalves
Alexander Gouletas
Karen Hirsch
Kevin Jones
Dave Jordano
T.J. Kirkpatrick
Charles Ledford
Nate Matthews
Charles Mintz
Greer Muldowney
Kelley O’Brien
Matt Rahner
Jim Ramer
Kevin Shick
Rebecca Sittler
Harit Srikhao
Sarah Sudoff
Leonard Suryajaya
Lorenzo Tassone
Scott Tavitian
Kristine Thompson
Tom Wagner
Zhiyuan Yang

Filter Photo
1821 W. Hubbard St., Ste. 207
Chicago

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Mauro Fiorese @ Robert Mann Gallery

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Mauro Fiorese: Treasure Rooms
September 8 – October 22, 2016

Opening reception: Thursday, September 8, 6-8 p.m.

Cavernous halls and labyrinthine basements overflowing with artwork too precious to go on view, are the imagined treasures hidden behind the closed doors of museums. However, these romantic fantasies give way to more astringent environments. Treasure Rooms of the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna captures a collection of gilded frames and lush oil paintings that are meticulously stored in sterile rooms; the life they depict at odds with the rigidity of their current environs. In Treasure Rooms of the Museo di Capodimonte a tunnel composed of endless racks of paintings reveals the ordered beauty in these storage sites. The regularity of these artistic barracks serve a vital purpose: the endless shelves, walls, and mobile racks that hold these masterpieces stand sentinel and preserve prizes that are laying in wait. Having been granted special access to these often unseen places, Fiorese brings to light the hidden works of museums, perhaps shattering the idealized vision of over stuffed attics. In reality these ‘treasure rooms’ are exhibitions unto themselves, each as carefully curated as those in the museum’s main viewing spaces.

Robert Mann Gallery is located at 525 West 26th Street, 2nd Floor. NY

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Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving @ The Lionheart Gallery

Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving, Hope, Pigment over Palladium, 11"x14"

Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving, Hope, Pigment over Palladium, 11″x14″

Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving: Svala’s Saga
September 9–November 1, 2016

Opening reception will be on September 24 from 5-8 PM

Svala’s Saga is a collection of pigment over palladium prints by daughter-mother duo Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving. Shot in Iceland, these timeless yet contemporary images approach climate change and extinction with a starkly elegant eye.

The Lionheart Gallery
27 Westchester Avenue
Pound Ridge NY

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Book Review: Afghanistan Between Hope and Fear by Paula Bronstein

A girl looks through the frosted window of a restaurant, hoping to get leftovers. She begs after school to help out her family. (Kabul, January 13, 2002)

A girl looks through the frosted window of a restaurant, hoping to get leftovers. She begs after school to help out her family. (Kabul, January 13, 2002)

I’ve often wondered whether photographs from conflict zones really make a difference. There are of course the ones that have become icons such as Nick Ut’s photo of Kim Phuc – and been attributed a significance that back then they probably did not have. Well, who knows? What we do however know is that the military is afraid of pictures (and that means: feelings, emotions, sensations) for they cannot control them.

I haven’t been to Afghanistan and never had any desire to go there. I’m still not sure whether I would like to visit the place despite the fact that the images I now carry around in my head fill me with warm feelings for the Afghans portrayed. Paula Bronstein’s photographs convey the impression that she is fond of, and touched by, the people she decided to photograph.

Photographs are meant to direct people’s eyes. Paula Bornstein shows us what she wanted us not only to see but to look at. We need to confront the reality in Afghanistan not only because the policy makers in the West are partly responsible for contributing to, and being a part of, it but because what is happening there is a human made tragedy. What human beings have decided to begin, they can also decide to stop.

Burqa-clad women wait to vote after a polling station runs out of ballots. (Kabul, April 5, 2014)

Burqa-clad women wait to vote after a polling station runs out of ballots. (Kabul, April 5, 2014)

The reality in Afghanistan is however not just the one we occasionally hear about in the news. It is also a unique rugged landscape, it is also about people going about their daily lives – we get to see a man playing cricket as the sun sets on a dusty field, an electrician cutting old power lines, a girl watching her mother read from the Qur’an after Friday prayers at a local mosque, a policeman taking a break atop an abandoned vehicle.

Beautiful is the word that first came to mind when I was spending time with these photographs. And, almost immediately, my inner censor voice made itself heard: Can photographs that depict atrocities and suffering be beautiful? Of course they can. But is it really a good idea to make aesthetic photos of burn victims and heroin addicts and present them in a impressively done tome? Yes, yes, yes!

I’m saying this because of what I’ve experienced with Paul Bronstein’s Afghanistan photographs: I felt deeply moved and touched, I couldn’t take my eyes off them. They made me curious, I wanted to know the stories behind the people portrayed. And, I was glad the information accompanying the pics was succinct and useful.

Young women cheer as they attend a rally for the Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani. (Kabul, April 1, 2014)

Young women cheer as they attend a rally for the Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani. (Kabul, April 1, 2014)

The foreword by Kim Barker, the former South Asia bureau chief for the Chicago Tribune, highlights that Bronstein “made the country a mission, returning frequently over the years and choosing to spend most of her time with Afghans rather than on embeds with international troops.” The introduction by Christina Lamb, the award-winning British journalist who has been travelling to Afghansitan since 1987, devotes her attention to the plight of Afghan women and points out that the “photographs in this book vividly illustrate, there are two very different sides to the lives of women in Afghanistan.” She quotes Hassina Safi, excutive director of the Afghan Women’s Newtwork: “On one side we’re seeing promotion of women to key positions as a result of our advocacy over the last years, but at the same time there is no security for women, and we’re seeing the systematic killing of women working outside.”

Given that, as Paula Bronstein writes in her afterword, “working in Afghanistan as a female photographer has its unique difficulties, including cultural and religious taboos,” this book is not only remarkable but truly impressive and extraordinary. Paula Bronstein makes one understand because she makes one feel. She created a deeply moving testimony of life.

The images shown here are excerpted from the book Afghanistan: Between Hope and Fear, photographs by Paula Bronstein, with a foreword by Kim Barker and an introduction by Christina Lamb (University of Texas Press, August 2016)

Paula Bronstein Cover
Afghanistan Between Hope and Fear
By Paula Bronstein
University of Texas Press, Austin 2016
For more information or to purchase the book: utpress.utexas.edu/index.php/books/bronstein-afghanistanwww.paulaphoto.com

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Interview with photographer Carrie Schreck

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Cary Benbow (CB): Why did you become a photographer? How did you get started?

Carrie Schreck (CS): I messed around a bit with film as a kid but the real answer this: when I first lived in San Francisco, my boyfriend and I never locked our car. It’s best just to leave it unlocked with nothing in it; if someone breaks in, at least you don’t have to replace your windows. One night someone must have been ripping off cars, got into ours and fell asleep. The next morning my boyfriend walks in with a Canon AE-1 left in the back seat. That’s how I got in to photography. Seriously. I still have that camera.

CB: Where do you get the ideas for your personal photography?

CS: I’m looking for genuine moments, powerful moments, and I hope to have the right mix of luck and speed to be able to catch them and do them some justice.

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CB: Explain the idea behind your portfolio images submitted to the Enthusiasm themed issue  – How do they relate to your other projects, or how is it significantly different?

CS: I’ve been shooting moped riders and moped gangs for 7 years. I shoot it because it’s my life and what’s going on around me, but it’s such a close-knit community, it’s a brotherhood and sisterhood. The story lines around each gang, each ride, each rally are a total challenge to capture. I wanted to save the memories for the people in them, that was always my first priority. Say, if Ashlee ever has kids and they are able to see a photo of her bombing the Coronado bridge after racing hundreds of miles, fixing her bike on the side of the road, doing something silly and dangerous but daring… maybe they’ll be inspired. With a photograph, that inspiration can happen long after I’m gone, after she’s gone.

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CB: Seven years definitely counts as a large, long-term project. What work are you currently shooting?

CS: ‘Larger series’ is about right. I’ve taken about 50,000 photos over the last 7 years. This fall I’ll be showing a slice of them at Haphazard Gallery in Santa Monica opening October 29. I’ve gotten the selects down to about one thousand, so I’m still editing. This coming week I’m traveling to Europe to meet with some moped gangs over there, tour a factory, follow a race, then I’ll be back in the states for the big national rally in San Francisco. That will be 8 years in total shooting bikes, I’m about ready to find a new subject.

CB: What will you be doing while you are in Europe? Where will you be traveling?

CS: I’ll be in Slovenia and Croatia, so I’m very interested in the lives of people displaced passing through from Syria and Jordan. I’m drawn to human ingenuity and how people excel at making the best of their situation. If I can find people willing to be photographed, I might. There are some moments that just don’t need to be photographed, I’m always aware of that, too.

CB: What or who are your personal photography inspirations?

CS: You know, strangely enough I found out a few years ago that my great Aunt was one of the first famous female photographers, Nancy Ford Cones. Like me, she liked documenting life’s moments. In her later years she started to become more experimental, creating scenes, when her husband died she stopped shooting altogether.  Weirdly, I learned all of this way after my own interest in photography began. In a way I feel like I’m continuing to shoot for her, so she’s a big inspiration for me.

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CB: How would you describe your work to someone viewing it for the first time?

CS: If Arthur Pollock had a 5D and hung out with grimey gear-head punks. Something like that.

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To see more work by Carrie Schreck, visit her website at https://radradmopeds.wordpress.com/

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Richard Tuschman @ PHOTO-EYE GALLERY

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Richard Tuschman: ONCE UPON A TIME IN KAZIMIERZ A Photographic Novella
September 16 – October 29, 2016

Opening & Artist Reception Friday Sept. 16, 5–7pm

PHOTO-EYE GALLERY
541 SOUTH GUADALUPE, SANTA FE, NM 87501

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Dynasty Marubi @ Foam

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Dynasty Marubi A hundred years of Albanian studio photography
16 September – 27 November 2016

Foam is showing a selection of photos from the archive of the Albanian photo studio Marubi (1856-1959). Three generations of photographers made studio portraits of a wide variety of people, ranging from the urban bourgeoisie, shepherds, the Ottoman emperor and King Zog, to criminals and famous actors and painters.

Foam
Keizersgracht 609
1017 DS Amsterdam

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DAVID GOLDBLATT @ Pace/MacGill

unnamedDAVID GOLDBLATT: The Transported of KwaNdebele: A South African Odyssey, 1983 – 1984 &
Ex-Offenders at the Scene of Crime, 2008 – 2015
September 14 – October 29, 2016

Opening reception: Wednesday, September 14, 5:30 – 7:30 PM

For over 60 years, David Goldblatt has documented the social and political developments of his native South Africa with a critical yet compassionate eye. Drawn “to the quiet and commonplace, where nothing ‘happened’ and yet all was contained and immanent…,” Goldblatt photographs the complexities of everyday life to reveal the far-reaching effects of apartheid and the post-apartheid conditions that continue to impact the country’s social fabric to this day. As Ingrid Sischy writes in her introduction to Kith, Kin and Khaya: South African Photographs, “David Goldblatt is a true misfit in the history of photography. A stand-out whose commitment to the medium is epic. He is one of a kind, and his images of South Africa, taken from the 1940’s and still going, will only be more reverberative as time goes on.”

Pace/MacGill
32 East 57th Street, 9th Floor

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Interview with photographer Marc Sirinsky

Memories are not the key to the past, but rather, to understanding our future.

Stone Pines © Marc Sirinsky

Stone Pines © Marc Sirinsky

It is a common human trait to construct our own personal histories based on our own story, our own experiences, and this that actually makes us all connected in the same way. Through his own life and experiences, Marc Sirinsky’s work connects to us all in one manner or another, by reaching out to share his own world, and ours.

Sirinsky has been following the same approach for the past couple decades. Whether low-tech or high-tech, Sirinsky’s artist statement addresses his approach directly: “As human beings, we view the world through a haze of our emotions. Though we often use our intellect as a counter balance, we always come back to that emotional home. Often both beautiful and uneasy, our memories are a construction based on our own uniquely personal histories.”

For some photographers, there is a distinct look to their work. There are the people who learned and formed their style before the internet took hold of our collective mind’s eye; and there are those who have been fully digital since picking up a camera and starting to express themselves. For a special group of artists, they straddle the line between the fully analogue world of film-based cameras and darkroom printing, and the world of digital captures and Lightroom or Photoshop adjustments before posting or printing. The work of Marc Sirinsky has a little of both – while fully fluent in the world of manual cameras and wet darkroom processes, Sirinsky has not been shy to meld silver with pixels. His work includes images made with iPhones or plastic film cameras; scanning film and printing onto papers more commonly used by photographers used to working with Epson ink jet versus Ilford Pearl Matte. But one of the common threads and strengths to his work, looking beyond technique and tools, is the ability to mix nostalgia and beauty with a dash of uneasiness and/or tension from his own personal perspective.

Lone © Marc Sirinsky

Lone © Marc Sirinsky

Q&A

Cary Benbow (CB): How did you start into photography, what is your background?

Marc Sirinsky (MS): I’m one of those people that knew as soon as they picked up a camera that they wanted to be a photographer.  My parents bought me my first camera when I was 6 or 7…it was one of those 110 film cameras – probably a Vivitar 602 or something.  I remember my dad watching me use it and saying “Did you see how steady his hands were?  Did you see that???!!!” Of course, my dad was also into photography and had his B.A. and M.A. in film studies, so I think he was projecting a bit. But, what really got me started was my aunt’s Nikon FE2 that I picked up a year or two later.  She let me hold it at the zoo and photograph with it and then I wouldn’t give it back. That was truly the most singular moment that put me where I am now.

I then photographed steadily from the end of grade school up through middle school and finally got into the darkroom in high school, where I proceeded to spend as much time as I possibly could over the next 4 years. I actually managed to structure a semester where I had 4 photo classes out of a 9 period day. Not sure how that happened – I think it was my regular photography class, a study hall that I used for darkroom time, an independent study and a gym pass during a swimming unit because I had a chlorine allergy.  I became obsessed and it got to the point where they started creating photo classes for me.

Apollo Mission © Marc Sirinsky

Apollo Mission © Marc Sirinsky

From there, I went to art school at the University of Michigan School of Art and Design where I had to spend my first full year pretending to care about drawing. I already knew I was terrible, or at least thought I was because I had been hearing that my entire life, and now I was stuck in a class with a bunch of drawing majors whose work was used to set the grading curve. I didn’t pick up a camera or get a whiff of a darkroom until my sophomore year and it nearly killed me.  But once I got there, the same cycle repeated itself – I tore through all the classes the school had to offer and soon enough, I was back doing larger projects, independent studies and testing the school faculty on what they could handle.

I have no regrets about my education, but it was extremely expensive and I got literally zero career counseling. It was either become a fine artist and starve, or become a commercial photographer and also probably starve. I did some commercial photography interning during summer breaks and then freelanced for a year after I graduated.  But, I soon realized that I was coming home every day not wanting to create anything.  I then happened to see a job posting in the newspaper (yep, not much internet to speak of then) for a photo editor and someone was willing to take a chance on me. I got some gallery representation soon after for my fine art and from there, I never looked back and have had dual careers in publishing and fine art for almost two decades.

Sunset No. 1 © Marc Sirinsky

Sunset No. 1 © Marc Sirinsky

CB: What compels you to make the images you create?

MS: In all the years I’ve been photographing and all the interviews I’ve done, I’ve never been asked that. I think for most artists, that question is difficult to answer because what motivates someone to self-expression can be very complex. I will say that for me, it’s a need because after all this time, it’s how I see the world. I see light, shadow, color and texture all the time…perhaps more than most, and I can take those things and create work that expresses me as an individual…my experiences, my struggles and feelings, but hopefully also speak to someone else’s as well.

There’s another piece to this though, and it relates back to my drawing skills.  I’ve recently learned (and I mean within the past couple of months) that I’m much better at drawing than I thought, and have my own viable style that I’m quite proud of. But, individual style isn’t something that is taught in that medium…at least not when I was growing up.  You drew what was in front of you and you were either good at it or you sucked at it. I fell squarely in the latter category – at least in so far as my teachers and later my professors were concerned. What attracted me to photography was that it was perhaps the most direct artistic expression available without the nuisance of relying on my hands to translate that vision. I’m sure a lot of photographers won’t admit it, but I know others who came to photography under similar circumstances and it’s an element that shouldn’t be overlooked.  

CB: Please explain the idea behind your portfolios on your website, and what other work are you currently creating?

MS: The work that I’m most closely identified with is a series I’ve been working on for close to 10 years. On my website, it’s listed simply as “Mixed,” but the work incorporates film, digital and printmaking. It’s a very labor-intensive process and as a result, I sometimes like to take a break from it, which is where my other projects come into play.

Summons © Marc Sirinsky

Summons © Marc Sirinsky

Another series I’ve been working on for many years involves shooting film through a Bakelite camera from the 1930’s. It’s a camera that originally took 127 mm film, but I’ve rigged it to take 35 mm and lots of happy accidents occur as a result. I’ve also been working on a group of images that depict vintage toys as objects of play vs. the “real” thing they were made to represent. Of course, there’s also a portfolio of iPhoneography, and I’ve just recently begun to riff off of that by starting a series utilizing a microscope with an iPhone hook-up. But, across all of my projects, I find myself working with the same themes.

Crash © Marc Sirinsky

Crash © Marc Sirinsky

CB: Much of your work focuses on memories, and/or family — what else would you say are your main themes (either within or across various projects of yours)?  

MS: Though the themes of my work have remained relatively constant throughout much of my career, the way I approach those themes have definitely changed. I don’t address family issues as directly in my work as I did when I was first starting out. I had a very difficult upbringing and my family dynamic was complicated, to say the least. But, I had a wonderful professor in art school who helped me to dig deep and channel those personal experiences into my work.  I was one of the few folks at the school that came in with the technical piece somewhat well in-hand because of how long I’d been photographing, but the issues and themes in my work were where I needed the most help. Though it took a little bit of an emotional toll, those deep-seeded issues were very accessible and easiest to deal with in a very up front, in your face type of approach.  Lots of art students get their sea legs doing political work and I was no different – I just used my own family as a launching point.  But as my career has progressed, I’ve allowed those experiences to settle in a bit and they now come out in much more subtle ways. But, memory and the idea of how human beings recall has always been something that I’ve found captivating.  

Passer-by © Marc Sirinsky

Passer-by © Marc Sirinsky

Childhood, of course, factors into that in a pretty direct way and some of my work certainly tackles that head on. Someone also told me once that loneliness and a degree of melancholy permeates much of my work and I think there could be something to that as well.  

CB: Your work is created from both analog and digital processes – how do you feel about working in this way?

MS: I’ll discuss this in the context of my “Mixed” series because it is probably the best way to delve into your question. Honestly, that series is a total pain in the ass, but I love it. Back in the mid 2000’s when I started that body of work, I knew what I was looking for but was having a hard time achieving it technically.  And after experimenting with about 10-15 different processes, I finally arrived at what I had seen in my head. The problem was that it involved so many steps and if you take one of those steps away, the whole process breaks down. The film runs through a very old camera that can be quite unpredictable, the digital element can be very tricky to execute and the printmaking portion of the process is all manual, without the benefit of a press…and is extremely temperamental. That’s also part of why each print is done in editions of 10 or less (sometimes a lot less), and within that edition, each print is unique due to the chemical process at play. But, they look great and even though they wipe me out, I wouldn’t change a thing. They are true labors of love.

Invite © Marc Sirinsky

Invite © Marc Sirinsky

CB: What or who are your photography inspirations?

MS: Inspirations are hard a thing because I think these also can evolve over time. Many of the artists who inspire me most aren’t actually photographers – probably because I’ve spent so long working with alternative processes that I often look beyond the photography world for inspiration.  One photographer who sticks out in my mind though is Holly Roberts. In my view, she is one of the greatest photo artists of my lifetime.  She was doing oil painting on photography 20 years before anyone else, and her work still stands up as some of the most interesting, textural, narrative work that I’ve ever seen.   I’ve also always found the work of Timothy O’Sullivan absolutely fascinating. Without him, landscape photography as we know it would look very, very different.  Another artist who inspired me very recently was a Japanese artist named Ko Ushijima.  I discovered his work on Instagram of all places, and he was the one who inspired me to do my first ever series of line drawings a month or so ago.  I never knew I had it in me and after seeing his work, I immediately went into my studio and cranked out a whole series.  I’d never felt anything quite like it and I have this amazing artist to thank for it.  Needless to say, I bought one of his pieces immediately thereafter.  

Space Between © Marc Sirinsky

Space Between © Marc Sirinsky

CB: You’ve been represented in galleries in both Chicago and the Washington DC area – what are the important similarities or differences?

MS: The gallery experiences I’ve had have been so different from one another, and the industry itself has changed so much since the beginning of my career.  The first gallery that represented my work was a place called Blue Fox in Chicago’s Roscoe Village neighborhood.  I was a wide-eyed kid in my 20’s and fell into a space with a small group of very talented artists and an absolutely outstanding gallery director named Ara Lucia. Some other wonderful galleries in Chicago represented me after that space closed, but I found myself continually longing for the individual attention I got from Ara and the camaraderie with the other artists she represented.  I moved from Chicago to northeast Pennsylvania in 2005 and had some great gallery experiences there as well, but I think part of my problem is that I tend to look to the past too much – it’s obviously a crucial part of my work and I sometimes get hung up on it.  When I got to DC, it took me a couple of years to get going in the gallery scene again for various reasons and finding a space that was the right fit for me proved challenging.  But it finally happened when I landed at Gallery Plan B…an absolutely outstanding space in the recently developed 14th Street neighborhood.  They actually closed last year and I’ll be honest that it was a major blow – it can take a long time for an artist to find a “home” that is truly the right fit.  But, in order to remain a working artist, you need to be persistent and unfortunately, starting over in this economy occurs all too frequently.

Café Sólheimajökull, Iceland © Marc Sirinsky

Café Sólheimajökull, Iceland © Marc Sirinsky

Chicago and DC both have viable art scenes in a true urban setting, but I feel like the scene in DC is still up and coming to a certain degree.  There are certainly established gallery districts in DC, but they aren’t of the same size and scope as Chicago’s West Loop or River North neighborhoods for example.  You also see galleries in Chicago popping up in other neighborhoods that aren’t even close to gentrifying yet, and I don’t see that as much in DC, which is unfortunate.   But, there are plenty of outstanding artists across all disciplines in both cities and quality galleries to visit.

CB: As an artist represented by a gallery, have you found it important to create work with a specific audience in mind? And – what type of expectations are placed on an artist by a gallery?

MS: I’ve been very fortunate during my career in that no gallery director has ever told me what kind of work to make. I will say that the pressure to produce is something that most galleries have in common.  They want to see a steady stream of new work  – it gives them fresh product to show to their clients and also sends a message to patrons that their stable of artists is committed and cutting-edge.  I personally work best under pressure and nothing compels me to create new work like having a show on the books that I need to get ready for.

Ice Cream Truck © Marc Sirinsky

Ice Cream Truck © Marc Sirinsky

CB: How would you describe your work to someone viewing it for the first time?

MS: Alternative process photography that deals with memory and how we as human beings recall and process our experiences.

Porch Scene © Marc Sirinsky

Porch Scene © Marc Sirinsky


Marc Sirinsky’s photography has appeared in numerous publications and in over 40 juried, solo, and group exhibitions. A native of Chicago, he now resides in Northern Virginia in the greater Washington D.C. area.

For more information, and to see his portfolio, see his website at http://www.sirinsky.com/. Sirinsky’s work is currently in exhibitions at A Smith Gallery:  “Pinhole,” which runs through August 28th and “Habitat,” which runs through September 18th.  A reception for both exhibitions will be held at the gallery on August 27th from 4-7 pm.  Address is: 103 N. Nugent Ave, Johnson City, TX 78636

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