Thursday, February 26, 2009

Art Space Talk: Anastasia Cazabon

Anastasia Cazabon (b.1983) is a photographer based in Boston, Ma. She is a graduate of New England School of Photography and is currently enrolled at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Her work has been shown in various exhibitions and gallery’s including, the Photographic Resource Center’s 2007 Members Exhibition, the Griffin Museum of Photography and the Texas Photographic Society’s National Show. In 2005 she was awarded Nonprofessional Portrait Photographer of the Year, by the International Photography Awards. Anastasia is a member of the photography collective The Exposure Project and is represented by Photo Edition Berlin.
Brian Sherwin: Anastasia, I understand that you studied at the New England School of Photography and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Can you tell us about your academic background? Have you had any influential instructors
Anastasia Cazabon: I was greatly involved in theater as a child. I went to a high school specializing in the arts, where I majored in theater. By the time I graduated I realized that acting wasn’t something I wanted to pursue. I knew I wanted to do something art related, but I didn’t know what. So for a couple years after graduating I took various film and photography classes at RISD and SMFA. It wasn’t until I took a color photography class at NESOP with Tom Petit that I knew I wanted to be a photographer.
My teacher Tom completely changed the way I viewed photography. At that point I had a very limited knowledge of photography and I thought that being a photographer meant shooting in a portrait studio or being a documentary photographer. Tom introduced me to the work of Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Francesca Woodman and other photographers who used photography in a very different way then I had previously been exposed to.
Tom also pushed me to take self-portraits and use my theater background, which at first was something I had no interest in doing. Honestly, if I hadn’t of met Tom I don’t think I would be a photographer, or at least be doing the work that I’m doing today. So I graduated from NESOP in 2005 and in 2007 I decided to continue my education at Mass Art. I’m currently still at Mass Art and will be finishing up my degree this year. Unfortunately Tom Petit recently passed away, but I know that he inspired many people and was a great influence on people’s lives.

BS: Anastasia, you have stated that you view your photographs as small secrets and hidden clues to an unseen world of imagined characters. Can you go into further detail about that?
My images are based on my own childhood. Specifically the fantasy world I made up for myself. I’m the youngest of three sisters and by the time I was five my sisters were on their way to college. So I spent the majority of my childhood alone making up imaginary friends and adventures. My images are recreations of my childhood fantasies. Some are exaggerated and some are completely made up, but all are based on the feelings I had as a child.
These are private moments in a young girls life, memories that usually fade over time. In essence I’m photographing and recreating these very distant memories to further their existence. I have tried to make them as universal as possible, so that people can relate to the images.
BS: Tell us more about the thoughts behind your work?

AC: Right now I’m exploring the very intense relationships girls have with each other, particularly between the ages of 5 -15. I’m interested in the strong bond that is created; the feelings of rivalry and competition, as well as loyalty and love. I believe feelings in general are much more intense and raw as a child, and drawing from these memories are a great source of inspiration.

BS: Can you go into further detail about the social implications of your art? For example, what is the specific message you strive to convey concerning aspects of society in general?

AC: I rarely consider a social message when making my images. This may sound selfish, but on the whole I usually make my images for myself. Of course it’s a plus if other people can enjoy them and relate to them. But I am intrigued by what people choose to reveal about themselves and what they consider private.
I try to make my images have a sense of mystery and privacy, which I believe makes the viewer want to see them more. Human beings are curious by nature, and we love seeing something we think we’re not supposed to see. So, if anything I’m playing with human curiosity.

BS: Due to the private aspect of your work do you sometimes feel as if you are opening yourself-- or at least an aspect of yourself-- to viewers? In that sense, is there a level of danger or concern in revealing yourself to viewers-- at least on a psychological level?
AC: I believe that any art a person makes is a reflection of the artist, and my work is definitely a reflection of who I am, but I don’t feel like I’m giving up that much personal information. I try to make my work subtle, so that nothing is too obvious or jumping out at you; it’s more up for the viewer to decide on the story then for me to actually tell the story.
Even though I use myself in many of my images I don’t consider them self-portraits, I’m playing a character (or multiple characters), so it’s not at all necessary for the viewer to know me.
I hope that others can relate to the images and make up their own stories through them, rather then relate them to me. In reality I am a very reserved person and highly value my privacy, and my images are from a separate world then the one I’m actually living in.

BS: What about your process in general? Can you describe how you work? For example, work from intuition, so to speak, or is there a great deal of planning and research beforehand? Tell us about your process.
AC: I storyboard almost every photograph beforehand. Everything is constructed and planned out. I’m very specific on what I want and am kind of a control freak. I shoot with a 4x5 camera, so the shooting process is pretty slow and involved. For example it usually takes me about 5 hours to shoot 10 negatives. I also usually use myself in my images, so that adds to the slowness of the process. If an idea doesn’t turn out exactly how I want, I will re-shoot it until I get it right. At times I have someone with me to press the cable release (if I’m in the shot), but often I shoot alone.
Certain images are digitally manipulated; for example when I use the double figure of myself, but I try to use Photoshop in a subtle way, to not cause attention to the manipulation. I try to make the images look as though it’s a fleeting moment that’s about to pass, but in actuality they are very calculated and planned out.

BS: Can you go into further detail about some of your influences? For example, are you influenced by any specific artists or art movements?

AC: I find the most inspiration in films. I am obsessed with movies and watch about one movie a day. Some of my favorite movies include Vagabond by Agnes Varda, Sweetie by Jane Campion, Cria Cuervos by Carlos Saura and La Ceremonie by Claude Chabrol. I’m also influenced by children’s literature and fairy tales. As far as photography goes, I could stare at Alessandra Sanguinetti’s photographs all day.

BS: Anastasia, you have been involved with exhibits in the United States and Germany. What do you enjoy about exhibiting in general?

AC: It’s wonderful finding out that other people enjoy your work, and it’s great seeing your work in public after years of obsessing and working on it in private. But I’m pretty shy, so it can be sort of nerve-racking at openings.

BS: Speaking of exhibits-- where can your art be viewed at this time? Will you be involved with any upcoming exhibits?

AC: I have a solo show coming up at the Gallery for Photography in Gdansk, Poland and I will be included in the annual Mass Art auction, which takes place in March. My work can also be seen in Humble Arts publication A Collectors Guide to Emerging Art Photography.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art?

AC: I’m also part a photography collective called the Exposure Project. Me and three other photographers (Ben Alper, Adam Marcinek and Eric Watts) started the project about 5 years ago and since then it’s expanded into a wonderful community of artists. We’re putting out our 4th book this summer. I’m very excited and proud to be part of such an amazing collective.
You can learn more about Anastasia Cazabon by visiting her website-- Anastasia Cazabon is a member of the community-- You can read more of my interview by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
New York Art Exchange

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