Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Photographer Series #13: greggshotkatemoss

Gregg LeFevre has used text and images to create over 200 site-specific public art works that provide insight about the nature and character of particular places. His cast bronze insets can be found underfoot, set in the paving of all types of pedestrian spaces in numerous American cities including NYC, Miami, Chicago, Boston, Las Vegas, Seattle and LA.
LeFevre's Edison inset, Trenton, NJ

Having worked “in the streets” as a sculptor, it was natural for LeFevre to begin a parallel career as a street photographer in the early 1990’s. His most important photographic series deals with the role of figurative advertising in the urban landscape. He is especially drawn to documenting what happens when “the photographic fantasies of the advertising world meet the reality of street life in urban centers” … a perfect fit for ishotkatemoss!

iskm: Do you identify yourself as a "street photographer"?
Gregg LeFevre (GLF): I would identify myself as a photographer with a street photography habit. I try to shoot what I see as a dialogue between the advertisers and the city itself: it’s people, it’s artists, it’s installers, it’s construction companies, it’s public works departments, it’s insane people, it’s animal life, then the wind, weather and other random occurrences.

iskm: How/why do you select the source images you choose to photograph?
GLF: I always travel through the city with my camera. Part of what I do is encyclopedic in that I often shoot different examples of the same thing. For example, balloons, homeless people’s carts, spilled paint, chains, pictures of celebrities etc. But outdoor advertisements are for me the richest subject as there are so many levels of interaction, and mediation and transformation of meaning.

LeFevre’s photographic representations document another layer of the sculptural elements within the urban landscape. When asked about kate specifically, he forwarded more than 20 recent images - which are now included in the iskm collage - so it was fascinating for iskm to consider his use of her ever-present visage.
Untitled, Gregg LeFevre's Kate Moss

iskm: Why did you shoot the kate moss images?
GLF: I have shot series of many celebrity and model ads: Kate Moss, Lady Gaga, Mike Tyson, J.Lo, etc. I am drawn to all the myriad things that can happen to an outdoor ad, and because I always carry a camera, I shoot every ad that I see of a particular personality, then later I sort them into categories, and choose my favorites in each.

iskm: Some of your favored kate images have been doctored by others. Why are you particularly attracted to the way other people/artists have changed what we would have seen? 
GLF: I do see a dialogue between the advertisers and the city, including the citizens of the city. People respond to ads in very different ways, and when they choose to interact by way of altering an ad, these differences create all sorts of interesting scenarios and elaborations. And of course ads do the same - over and over I have shot ads that contain imagery drawn from the graffiti and street art world. For example there are ads that feature torn away sections, as if they were savaged by someone, or ads that have printed graffiti as part of the ad. One type of situation that I shoot, I call blockheads, where a sticker artist has pasted a sticker, often rectangular over the face featured in an ad. Recently I found an ad campaign on the street doing exactly the same thing, only what appeared to be the sticker art, was actually a sticker printed within the original advertisement.
Untitled, Gregg LeFevre's Kate Moss

iskm: By you 'capturing' it do you feel it is a formal acknowledgement of other's work, which is passing? Do you see this as another form of appropriation?
GLF: I don’t consciously acknowledge their work, but looking at the dialogue they create does highlight their creative participation. And I am definitely appropriating their work. I also have a series of graffiti shots where I have cropped sections of graffiti and street art that reference or look like different established artist’s works. I call it the “Homage Series” and I’ve found various passages in street work that look just like Picasso, Basquiat, Guston, Cristo, Franz Kline and many, many others.

iskm: You title your web site "Unmanipulated" and the portfolio which includes kate "Aberrant Imagery". Can you explain why you use this language?
GLF: “Unmanipulated” is the title of my site because I want to stress that these are documentary images, and not images that have been created by using Photoshop, or other image manipulation programs. “Aberrant Imagery” is just that, because of what the actions of various actors in the urban landscape have visited upon advertising images.

Untitled, Gregg LeFevre's Kate Moss
iskm: How do you feel your approach to photography/art making affected your kate work? Do you see her all the time as a subject?
GLF: Kate Moss seems to have had several resurgences as a presence in the street advertising world. She’s reinvented herself so many times that she’s right back from where she started.

iskm: Do you see your work photographing altered advertisements as a natural progression in the lineage of "street photography"?
GLF: While I am aware of past street photography, I have not in any conscious way tried to extend or align my work with that of past photographers. I am not trying to represent today’s culture, but rather the dialogue, which has existed as long as advertising has been around. Yet by doing so, I am using ads, that when looked at in the future, will be seen to reflect the culture of today.

iskm: Which photographer/s would you most want to most see involved in ishotkatemoss?
GLF: Edward Burtynsky, Gursky, Struth, Brassai, Atget - are all photographers that I admire who made social comments, sometimes very subtle, with their photography. Burtynsky, for example shot an amazing series on the destruction of derelict super tankers, cut apart on the beaches of Bangladesh by boys and young men wearing no protective clothing or headgear. While some of the shots are breathtakingly beautiful, they are also social criticism on several levels: how wasteful and ill fated the world's oil industry is, and how little it values human life. I think Burtynsky would turn a keen eye toward the world of consumer advertising, and its super models.

More of Gregg’s work, including the arresting portfolio Aberrant Imagery, can be seen at and while walking the streets of NY; his images are currently in the entryway to the Four Seasons restaurant and the windows of the Gourmet Garage plus his sculptures are intertwined in this fair city's sidewalks.

So keep your eyes peeled and as you walk past those distorted advertisements, just like Gregg:
Untitled, Gregg LeFevre's Kate Moss
Observe. Slow Down. Shoot. Submit.

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