Reported by Louisa Rechter
Y&P interviews up-and-coming photographers and lifelong friends, Aloyse Blair and Janelle Pietrzak, whose first solo exhibition in New York City is being held at the National Arts Club, now extended through April 9th, 2012.
Their exhibition entitled, Liminal Rites, was curated by Vaughn Massey and is comprised of large vibrant photographs representing an alliance between two women and two media: Performance Art and Photography. By using long exposures to capture their choreographed performances in scenic settings, the images convey a series of moments and transformations.
Y&P: What is the inspiration behind your photographs?
Aloyse and Janelle: The inspiration behind the images comes from a love of storytelling, beauty, rituals, and play. The work is very site specific, with each location we seek to tell the story, perform the ritual, or create the dance appropriate for the space and our interactions with that space. The spaces are often very magical whether natural or architectural places, they serve as our studio, our inspiration, and our collaborators.
What makes you drawn to spiritual beauty?
Janelle: Growing up in the Colorado Mountains, I have always been drawn to natural beauty, but at a young age I was introduced to art which in most historically early cases is religious. In many ways I was drawn to the angels and the halos, the way they radiated light, I feel we have a lot of this in our work. I was never asked to choose a specific religion so now I draw from many. In a way I feel like these performances are our way to give thanks for the gift of life which to me is the ultimate in spirituality.
Aloyse: My artistic endeavors have focused on a few consistent themes: capturing the soul, the body in nature, and an understanding of the human experience from my own personal perspective as an American Woman. I find a deep sense of purpose and meaning in creating work that highlights the positive aspects of spiritual beauty and meaning in a world that is so damaged by religion. I am a practicing Episcopalian and appreciate the strong foundation of art history as a reflection of spiritual and religious beliefs.
Why do you choose long exposures as opposed to other mediums?
Janelle: I love photography, I am a born photographer, but what I love about this process is that it is like a combination of film making and painting. There are both elements of reality and imagination involved that allows us to tell amazing stories.
Aloyse: There is something about long exposures that is so magical – it allows us to capture the “liminal” moment (the threshold of transformation) which does not exist in a single second. As humans we do not exist in a moment, but through a series of events, so I feel like this form of photography captures the essence of being in a more saturated way than a faster shutter speed allows
Where are your photographs typically taken?
Janelle: Aloyse and I both travel a lot; this allows us access to some amazing locations. Generally, we choose a place for its beauty. Each location must make a great photograph on its own to be successful.
Aloyse: The series Liminal Rites was taken in New York City (at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Highline, and The General Theological Seminary), in San Miguel de Allende (at the Charco which is their botanical gardens and wandering the streets), and at my father’s farm in New Hope, NJ. We have also worked a lot in other locations throughout Mexico and in Colorado.
Who models for you?
Janelle: We do all of the modeling ourselves. The work is somewhere between modeling and self portraiture.
Aloyse: This is performance art – and we are the performers. We collaborate with the camera to create the images… think Cindy Sherman, Francesca Woodman, Marina Abramovic… not fashion.
How did you two meet? What’s it like collaborating with a friend?
Aloyse and Janelle We met in boarding school when we were fifteen and have been making art and doing photography ever since. For us it is a very natural process, we complement each other in many ways. Mostly it is really fun, but sometimes you have to step back and put your ego in check. Ultimately we believe in each other and trust each others judgment, so letting go isn’t too hard.
What do you hope viewers will take away from your exhibition at the National Arts Club?
Aloyse and Janelle: We hope viewers take away a sense of wonder and fascination. The images all tell stories, but they are not leading. It is up to the viewer to decide what is going on. I hope the viewer feels that these images are something you can grow with, and return to over and over, always seeing something new and evoking new responses.
The National Arts Club – Marquis Gallery, 15 Gramercy Park, New York, NY 10003
Extending to April 9th, 2012. On view daily from 10am – 5pm, private viewings available upon request.
For further information about the event please email firstname.lastname@example.org.