Dear Diane and Shaded Viewers,
Annin Arts is bringing art to the masses, literally, with their latest exhibition #MYNAMEIS. The show sees five artworks by Nastasia Alberti, Duval Timothy, Kevin Morosky, Annie Mackin and Gillian Wearing displayed on single billboards throughout London. While #MYNAMEIS brings up intriguing questions surrounding a different kind of interaction with art outside of exclusive gallery walls, its main focus lies in the importance, perception and burdens of names.
London-based artist Nastasia Alberti chose Slutever blogger and Vogue columnist Karley Sciortino as her subject, depicting the writer in a sepia-toned portrait. In the following interview, Alberti discusses hours of location scouting in public libraries, the single image that inspired her to take up photography and why art consumption needs to catch up with our busy schedules.
When was the first time you realized you were interested in photography?
I start being interested in it when I was about 13 or 14 years old. I can remember that moment exactly: I went to an exhibition with my family and saw a Francesca Woodman photograph, the one where she's disappearing into the wall. That image had a very strong impact on me. Somehow it was showing what I was feeling. From then on, I wanted to do the same.
How do you go about creating your images and what inspires them?
I usually get inspired by my own life. I try to talk about emotions, about feelings.
What was the working process on this exhibition like?
It was really quick. The first aspect was choosing the girl and then timing. When George Annin told me about the exhibition and the subject that Gillian Wearing wanted us to work with, I got a bit freaked out because it was far away from what I usually do. But once I passed that stage it was really fun. I proposed my idea of working with Karley Sciortino to the gallery and they completely supported me, which was great. So then it was only a matter of organization, I had to go to NYC to see her.
Talk to me about the composition and overall feel you were going for in your photograph.
I wanted something moody but peaceful in her expression and an image that somehow would show Karley as a strong person. It was very important that she was seated at a desk surrounded by books. We walked around in the NYC library for hours to find the right place. I really wanted the photo to remind people of those old portrait paintings of writers, where they were always pictured sitting at their old desks with glasses on, looking very wealthy and serious.
How do you see the photograph interpreting the themes of the exhibition?
I really wanted to create a piece on the expectation that goes with names, the idea of clichés and stereotypes that a name can bring. Everyone in the show has done such a different and personal piece of work which is really awesome.
What was the collaboration with Karley Sciortino like and why did you choose her as your subject?
It was so much fun! I love her so much. We basically hung out in NYC all day talking about our lives and taking some photographs. She is the best person to work with because she is very open. She trusts you to do whatever you think is best. When I decided I needed to talk about stereotypes and clichés that came with a name I needed someone with a strong image. It obviously needed to be someone that when you say their name you have an image of said person pop up in your mind straight away.
I thought of Karley straight away because she is the perfect example. I feel that she is one of the best writers of our generation, and she's so smart, but as soon as you mention her name the first thing people seem to have in mind is not her writing but more her boobs, her sexy clothes, her hair, etc. Just because she talks about sex does not mean that she only has to be this sexy girl. It's so cliched and one-dimensional. People have put her in that box : the super sexy writer who talk about sex. So for me, depicting her in a classic portrait looking so different was thrilling, because this seems to be the image that writer should have, which is also a cliché. It was also important for me to work with a woman.
How do you see the public’s interaction with these images, displayed on billboards throughout London, differing from that of a gallery setting? Do you think these kind of shows are perhaps more relevant to our times?
I think it's a brilliant idea, it is relevant to our times and an easier way to consume art that matches our busy lives in this ever-changing social climate. I have a tendency to think that gallery shows are always a bit too snobbish, and not that open to everyone. For me this setting is so much more open, you don't need to take your Saturday off work to go to a gallery, you can just walk to your shop and see art. It's so smart. Everyone is included in this; you can be a young kid and still have access to it. I love that idea.
What are your upcoming projects and goals for the future?
Recently I've been very interested in working in cinema, on set photographs. I would really like to do that for a bit. I'm also gathering more material in order to hopefully publish a book by the end of next year. My biggest project at the moment is getting my US visa as I would like to settle down in NYC for a long time.
#MYNAMEIS is on display until July 7 at the following locations:
Karley Sciortino by Nastasia Alberti - 129/127 Hackney Road, E2 7QS - Billboard no 0237
Gillian Wearing by Gillian Wearing - London Bridge Station, SE1 9SL - Billboard no 1331
Lateefa Smith / Chang Jian Wen by Kevin Morosky - 178 Westbourne Grove, W11 2AD - Billboard no 1458
Annie Mac by Annie Mackin - Camden Town, Camden Road Station, NW1 9LS - Billboard no 1105
'London Bridge Arizona Arizona London Bridge' by Duval Timothy - London Bridge Station, Duke Street Hill, SE1 2SW - Billboard no 8171
View the full article here.