- WHOS NEXT IN NYC
- THE 9 TO KNOW
- TONIGHT'S TRACK
- Brooklyn, New York
- Known for:
- Images from the Internet
About Penelope UmbricoYou employ methods of re-photographing and appropriation to re-contextualize images. Why?
- Unknown for:
- All the photographs I actually take myself
I have always been interested in how we, as a culture, make images for our own consumption – the collective practice of making and sharing images. And I’ve always been interested in photography as a subject, more so than using photography myself as a personally expressive medium. Seen collectively, photography is the epitome of a culturally expressive medium – it registers all formulations of desire. My work teases out these formulations by extracting details that I feel point to a deflation or a rupture in the idealized fictions desire is based on.
You navigate the disconnection between photographic representation and abstraction while negotiating the transformation of authorship to the mass market.
Yes! I am always thinking about that exact threshold between the object of the photograph and the image pictured in it – there’s an interesting relationship to abstraction: the image is representational, but oddly abstract in it’s materiality, and where the substance of the photograph (paper or code) is not representational, it is, in fact, more concrete than the image it holds. But this concreteness is invisible – completely normalized and not thought about – in my work I question the assumption of subjective individuality in popular uses of photography, and by extension the assumed authorship in any given image.
You’re about to launch your first monograph. Given how your work raises so many conversations about the contemporary visual vernacular, what can we expect?
Interesting you use the word conversation, because I think of the work, in a way, as a conversation with that visual vernacular – both in how I think about and make the work and also in how I present it – often it goes back onto the internet and engages with the public whose images it refers to. For the book, rather than being documentation of my work installed elsewhere, the work is "installed" in the work. And instead of a chronological order, the work is arranged to create a kind of epic narrative starting with false romantic optimism, moving through the culture of home improvement which becomes more and more deflated as the book proceeds, ending in a kind of degraded, remote autistic domestic/cultural breakdown – I know, sounds kind of pessimistic… but it’s an aspect of what the work is about.
What do you have lined up for the summer?
I’m excited for the opening of the Rencontres d’Arles Festival – July 4-10. I was nominated by Chris Boot for the Discovery Award there, for which I’ll have a huge installation of mostly brand new work. And I’ll also have three other installations there of older work in the group show “From Here On” curated by Joan Fontcuberta, Joachim Schmid, Martin Parr, Erik Kessels, and Clément Chéroux.
Penelope Umbrico (photographs) is launched on Wednesday, June 15 at Aperture Gallery, NY. For information on the event, click here, and to buy her book, click here.
Photo credit: found image; photographer unknownFavorite Quote"We live in an expanding universe: the media offer us more and more things of which we have no immediate experience, and take away, one by one, the things with which we can communicate directly."– Vilém Flusser, from Line and Surface