Here you'll find a small collection of the articles and essays I've crafted for publications BUST Magazine and Juxtapoz. To view my copywriting and social media work, click here.
Vivian Fu: Identity, Relationships, & the Power of Selfies
Vivian Fu is a San Francisco based, San Fernando Valley raised photographer pushing the limits, shattering boundaries, and taking names. She earned her B.A. in Fine Arts with an emphasis on photography at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2012. Fu has since been creating an incredible body of work exploring her identity as an Asian American woman, her body, and her relationships. For a recent graduate, the artist already has an impressive curriculum vitae with features in The Le Sigh, Redox Magazine, and Young Shot, among others, along with two self-published works, four group shows, and a solo exhibition.
Fu’s most intriguing work to date is “Me and Tim,” an ongoing series of photographs beginning in August 2011, documenting her relationship from the very start. She says, “This body of work is a love letter—photographs of words that I’m not eloquent enough to string together. They are not only my document of love for Tim, but they are also a document of my ownership of my body, identity, and sexuality as mine.”
Fu’s stunning photographs have an air of intricacy. The work calls to mind that of Nan Goldin, empowering the snapshot to something much deeper, far more sincere, and far more considered. Encouraging honesty, visibility, and candid intimacy, Fu is without a doubt one to watch.
I had the privilege of interviewing Vivian on her life and work as an artist.
Do you remember the first photograph you took?
I don’t really remember the first photo that I took, but the first pictures I do remember taking were these selfies with those Polaroid izod cameras when I was maybe eight years old. I think I remember that I took some pictures of myself in our bathroom mirror too, which is something that I’m still obsessed with.
When did you start shooting?
My dad bought himself a new digital camera in 2003 and he passed down the camera he had been shooting with down to me. I don’t remember what kind of camera it was, but it was a pretty bad digital camera. I was maybe thirteen at the time and just took pictures of myself for myspace or pictures of my friends and places that I went, and I’d post the pictures to my livejournal.
What inspired your body of work, 'Me and Tim,' and why do you think it is important?
The series of me and Tim sort of just happened very organically. A lot of the images I take are of people in my life and the situations and places that we find ourselves in, and when Tim became a part of my life I started to photograph him.
There were a lot of things that I had been thinking about and processing through for a while in regards to race, sexuality, gender, power relationships, and where all of that sort of intersects and how they relate to me and my experiences. I spent a lot of time unpacking people’s perceptions of Asian bodies and the way they are portrayed, which influence my interest in image making, especially in photographing myself. So although the series is about my relationship with Tim and the tenderness and tension between us, it’s also a reaction to all of the thoughts I’ve been processing.
Do you think there is a power in self-portraits? In selfies?
There’s definitely power in imaging yourself. A lot of it gets written off as narcissism or self-absorption, but I think it’s really important for people to be able to really own their image. What’s great about self-portrayal is that when everybody does it, you get a real image of the diversity there is in the world, and I think that’s really powerful.
To view more of Vivian’s work, visit her website. All images courtesy of vivanfu.com.
Holly Andres Explores Mortality, Sex, and Violence from the Backseat
If Holly Andres isn’t on your radar, you’re missing out. Andres is a Portland-based photographer whose work feels akin to Alfred Hitchcock and Cindy Sherman, but fresh and contemporary. Her photographs often explore the tension between an apparently approachable subject matter and a darker, sometimes disturbing subtext.
“I’m interested in the cognitive dissonance that can result from employing formal elements such as bright colors, decorative patterns, theatrical lighting, and characters or objects that reflect stereotypes of innocence, girlish femininity, and motherhood to address unsettling themes,” Andres says. A girl after my own heart!
One series that is particularly intriguing to me (and any other art history buffs out there) is Backseat Vanitas. The series is composed of gorgeously saturated photographs referencing the seventeenth-century genre of Dutch still-life painting. This genre was used to illustrate the futility of earthly deeds and pleasures using everyday objects as metaphors for mortality, sex, and violence. You know, the usual.
Andres takes the still life one step further and pushes it into the contemporary realm, using the backseat of various cars as her scene and employing lingerie, nail polish, dollar bills, birthday cake, and spilled milk as her own modern metaphors. Even without the use of human characters, Andres’ series retains the rich narrative quality that is so important to her work.
“To be completely candid, I seem to enjoy some sort of voyeuristic pleasure by noticing the interiors of parked cars, as though they’re symbolic still lifes which paint a portrait of the unknown driver,” Andres muses, “They’re alluring, but as an uninvited guest peering into someone’s private space, there’s the potential risk of getting caught.”
You can check out more of Andres’ work on her site, hollyandres.com, and her instagram @hollyandres, where she has actually posted a mobile series of cars in her neighborhood dedicated to this fascination.
The Photography of Phebe Schmidt
Phebe Schmidt is challenging our perception of the world around us, one pastel-hued, glossy photograph at a time. The Australia native bears a bold, pop style not unlike the work of Toilet Paper Magazine and Maurizio Cattelan, but the driving force behind Schmidt’s work sets her apart, as well as her cultivation of equally revolting and seductive imagery. She juxtaposes food with gore, disgust with desire, and she makes the repulsive almost sensual. We can nearly taste it. Utilizing the digital age as her muse, she challenges every socialized norm from gender to beauty, from sexuality to the food we consume. Often composed like glossy product shots, Schmidt perverts and interprets our culture as she sees it and spits it back at us. And as we’ve learned so many times before, it can be hard to look in the mirror.
The Playful Eroticism of Joanna Szproch
Joanna Szproch’s striking photographs border on surreal. Her work carries a sense of spontaneity reminiscent of Ellen von Unwerth, along with a clever wit and eye for storytelling which calls to mind Tim Walker. The photographs are a study in vulgarity, the female body, and identity. Her work varies between seemingly extemporaneous portraits of decadence and something far more non-sequitur, almost like frozen moments from a dream. Through lighting, color, and attention to detail, Szproch strikes the perfect balance between erotic and playful.