Friday, July 17, 2015

Photographer Series #19: geneshotkatemoss ... but not really


Did you know that July 17th is Non Photography Day?

Non Photography Day is a day formed for action and awareness. As stated on the appropriately imageless www.nonphotographyday.com: “Taking part in non-photography day is simple, leave your camera or recording equipment at home and abandon your photo shoots. Whatever your activities that day, appreciate the life of the moment you are in rather than documenting the appearance of it.”

Here, here. While we at ishotkatemoss have decided to address the idea of proliferation by encouraging the appropriation, distortion, confrontation and throwing of more images onto the ever-expanding digital pile of pixels - while also attempting to show the hypocrisy of the image as it exists in modern society today - we wholly support the idea of abstinence, particularly from kate … if not forever more, at least for a day.

However, like a shop-a-holic drawn to a sale, we know people today will be drawn back to their mobile devices, digital cameras and the notion that for something to truly be it must be recorded, downloaded and shared incessantly rather than observed, deeply digested and considered. It is the fact that we don’t believe people can actually breathe and see the world without the validation of the image that we decided on our catchphrase: “Observe. Slow Down. Shoot. Submit”. Our recall, memories and inability to articulate what we see is so lacking without the referencing of the captured image is so incredibly disconcerting.

As a result, specifically today, we are highlighting a submission to the ishotkatemoss collage by Gene Kiegel, aptly titled “Another Kate Moss drawing”:
Formerly a fashion and advertising photographer, Gene is a NY based artist whose work transcends the boundaries of various disciplines, both in photography and contemporary fine art.  He works in series and utilizes various media that he deems best serve the concept. Gene states: “I prefer to work with mediums that offer an element of organic interaction or destruction. I find that working in such a way has a strong resemblance to our life experience.” 

Using a variety of forms and objects from polaroids to household items to matchbox cars to broken urinals, all of Gene’s series carefully choose to, or re-invent, media and have a deep conceptual undertone … philosophical in nature, often questioning the subjective concept of value by contrasting context, social references and traditions. This is clearly seen in one of Gene’s latest projects titled: ‘Welcome to My Fucking Art World”, an on-going series of more than 70 works that explores the ideas of value in the current art market through the production of large, expensive, limited edition artworks, each of which is a blank canvas with a simply articulated statement in basic black script.

iskm: Why did you come to create ‘Welcome to My Fucking Art World’?
Gene Kiegel (GK): Art has become an artificial stock market, where the price of artwork isn’t based on its quality, concept, effort, success in delivery, education, talent, mastery, etc. but rather on the artificial bubble that has been created around it - an artificial bubble that seems to dominate the entire state of the art world today.  ‘Welcome to My Fucking Art World’ is just a beginning of an attempt to pop the bubble, or at least to start the deflation process.  I want people to become aware of the scam and stop being fooled by the “system”. I want people to start trusting their own taste, educate themselves by seeing more art, understand the roots of various processes, talk to artists and not the curators who often think they know more than the artists themselves.

iskm: Why did you transition from fashion photography to fine art and reject the business?
GK: Fashion photography for me was an excuse to create art in a highly visible environment – magazines and adverts.  Fashion design is an artform in itself, not to mention the human body, make-up and hair design possibilities. I was more of an art director with a high skill set that allowed me to bring my ideas to life … Over the past decade, the craft became more about illustration and post-production, which interested me far less. The idea of an artist, as probably one of the few professions where you just need some space and supplies to create your work really intrigued me and gave me an idea as a photographer to stop spending my full time chasing clients and dedicate it towards creating art.

iskm: Why "Kate Moss"?
GK: Kate Moss was an exception - she was somewhat a statement of A new era. The whole idea of her was to introduce the "girl next door" – meaning, you too can be a model. That was a beginning of a brainwashing era in fashion where instead of the unobtainable they targeted common people and let them feel they can actually reach that goal. That's when the era of a beautiful supermodel was over …  the doors opened up for almost everyone to model, the quirkier the better.

iskm: Why did you choose to use the word "drawing"... relative to say using "picture", "photograph", "image" or even “painting”?
GK: Good question. I had to think about it myself. I didn't want to use the word “painting” as it somehow implies traditional master painting to me, as its origin. I didn't use ‘image’ as that would mean some magazine cut-out, collaged into the work. ‘Picture’ also implies ‘photograph’ and if you get to shoot Kate Moss you have probably been in the field for a while and are widely accepted unless you are her close friend or a paparazzi. So “drawing” is sort of an early stage painting - the term that I'm using to describe contemporary art. It's almost like an effortless sketch – similar to Richard Prince’s approach with his Instagram series, where he comments on one of the photos “I don’t need to paint anymore. Ur doin it all for me.”. 

iskm: How do you come up with your ‘Welcome to My Fucking Art World’ statements?
GK: I think they rise out of frustration of “being” in the art world and seeing it from the sides of artists, buyers and galleries … 
Have you ever walked into an opening of a prestigious gallery, looked at the artworks, their price tag, the quality of the actual work, all the press around it with people praising and writing about the amazing artist and all you could think was “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME”? It’s like the tale of the emperor and his new clothes. I think the statements are very relatable so I think just by reading them you would either know exactly what I’m talking about or have no idea.

iskm: What others from this series do you feel relate to the concepts underlying in the ishotkatemoss project? Why?
GK: Well, anything that’s reusing clich├ęs is pretty much an easy way out to relate to your audience, so works like "ANOTHER SKULL PRINT", “ANOTHER DISNEY CHARACTER” and “ANOTHER MARILYN DRAWING”.  I feel that the commercial art market is targeting easily recognizable iconic images as an easy way to relate to the consumer. In fact, it’s happening everywhere, not just in art – the pop-art movement, the mass-produced clothing of one size fits, pop music that isn’t really there to make you think or engage emotionally, everything is basically going towards the basic primal level.  And, of course, like Marilyn before her, Kate.
 
Look at the iconic figures of our time – Kim Kardashian for example – another socially manufactured bubble to which masses fall prey.  It’s not based on people’s own taste, nor judgment. Most people are so brainwashed by the media that it forms their opinion – in almost everything – fashion, beauty, values. They dismiss and suppress their objective opinions and start using socially manufactured standards as their own.  It provides a better sense of security and approval of their peers.

iskm: Today is World No Photography Day? Do you have any feedback for others as to how to deal with the incredible proliferation of images and imagery? 
GK: As far as the word “photography” in general, I feel that it has really changed and keeps changing its meaning over the last decade.  From an extremely technical field, where mastery was just as important as the vision, it has moved on to being a starting point for illustration, to social medium, to moving image, to a language of communication. To say that “today is no photography day” would be completely impossible. The imagery is surrounding us – facebook, Instagram, pinterest, twitter, etc. I have learnt from ‘Welcome to My Fucking Artworld’ that the image “This is the most important artwork of this century” is really the heart of Instagram and other social media tools.  We now see artwork, exchange ideas, share our world through our little digital windows.  And that importance, as an image, a single square image, really has become "THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ARTWORK OF THIS CENTURY".  So, saying that, I want to use Instagram as my digital canvas, where I create art and communicate to people around me, hence the “#genekiegel” that forms part of each piece. In a strange way, I encourage others to do the same. We just need to change the way we actually look at the idea of the image and question its validity.

iskm: Which photographer/s would you most want to most see involved in ishotkatemoss?  
GK: None.  I think she has been shot to death. 

If you would like to see more of Gene’s work visit www,genekiegel.com. Of course you can immerse yourself in ‘Welcome to My Fucking Artworld’ at www.instagram.com/genekiegel at and keep an eye out for the book “Welcome to My Fucking Art World – Volume I”, slated to be available this Fall!

And, particularly today, let's heed Gene's advice and notshootkatemoss.

Yet we wish to encourage people to carry the theory of Non Photography Day forward and shoot in a way that proposes a fresh way of thinking while surrendering to the methodologies of this project … being one of collaboration, artistic expression for no sake other than dialogue, patience, free-form creativity and shining a light on the craziness of the use of images.

So, again … Observe. Slow Down. Shoot (just not today). Submit.
www.ishotkatemoss.com

P.S. In case you are uncertain:
 

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