Continuing with our ongoing visits to artists' studios, we recently had the chance to visit photographer Jeremy Liebman at his Bushwick workspace.
POST NEW: Where is your studio based?
Jeremy Liebman: The pictures were taken in my old studio in Bushwick, but I moved into a new place in Greenpoint last month. It's about 850 square feet with really high ceilings, arched windows and an elevator that opens into the space.
PN: What do you like about its location?
JL: I really enjoy the walk to the studio everyday. Manhattan Avenue is really vibrant--Electronics and dollar stores and butchers and tanning salons. It has everything. And a lot of my friends either live or have studios around there.
PN: What is it that first attracted you to photography?
JL: I don't think I would've described it this way at the time, but I think I was curious about the tension between what is actual and what is represented. I liked that the process of selecting and framing the world could be considered a creative act. I'd been interested in drawing, music, and literature prior to that, but pure invention wasn't really a talent that I had, so photography was really satisfying for me. It allowed me to turn interpretation and response into something new.
PN: What was the last photograph you took?
JL: I just got back from a trip to Yosemite and Portland. I shot a lot inside my friend Dave's house. And in my brother's house. I like seeing peoples' rental situations and the strange combinations of things that end up together--carpeting and wood and food and personal effects.
PN: Do any specific artistic movements inspire your work?
JL: I don't think about movements as much as individual artists, but lately, I've been interested in a movement in French literature from the 50s called the Nouveau Roman, or New Novel. They wanted to strip away all representation of interior states of being, relying instead on physical phenomena and emotionless observation.
American documentary filmmaking from the late 50s and early 60s is an influence as well--the Maysles brothers and Frederick Wiseman in particular. They were coming after a time of very heavily manipulated documentaries, and responded by stripping everything extraneous away while still acknowledging their own presence and influence on their subjects and questioning the nature of truth and objectivity.
PN: Your style is realistic, beautifully simple and has been described as 'honest'. Can you expand on this?
JL: I get tied up a bit between trying to emote and being suspicious of the manipulative character of emotive photography. So I try to inject a bit of reflexiveness in order to undercut what might otherwise be sentimental or disingenuously one-note. I guess that could be considered honest, but I don't make any claims to truth or objectivity in my work.
PN: Who among your contemporaries do you admire?
JL: Too many to list. Anyone who is creating new ways of seeing.
PN: What's that you're working on?
JL: I'm doing a series called Ekphrasis, which is a Greek word for a work of art that's about another work of art. I had a very small amount of black & white and color 4x5 Polaroids which aren't made anymore. I'm doing geometric drawings on the wall and photographing them. I want to explore the way art can exist in multiple formats now, online, physically, conceptually. I've also been interested in the interplay between abstraction, representation, and physicality. As a photographer, all my work was abstracted in the sense that it was a representation of something else. When I moved in to my studio, I began experimenting with making more physical art objects--paintings and sculptures. Even though the content was abstract, the fact that they exist gives them some actual presence. The next step for me was to play with that separation by making drawings but disrupting their presence through photography and reproduction.
PN: When you're not in your studio, where can we find you?
JL: Somewhere else.
Photographer - Clément Pascal