Sunday, 12 June 2011

Levi Jackson

Levi Jackson

Having studied Sculpture in university, one might say that you come from a slightly different background than most artists engaging in photography. How did you get involved in photography?

I used to have hopes of being a photographer before I attended college so I learned some practical skills during that time. I really tried to learn the basics of composition and the fundamentals that I needed to posses in regard to the camera, so that I could take focus on what I was doing instead of how I was doing it.  The way I came to use it exclusively was more out of necessity than desire. I was doing these sculptures in remote locations by myself.  So the only way for me to show that my work even existed was to document it. That being said I obviously have some work that is very tied to photography because I do long exposure/time based projects that really can only exist via the camera. The second part to this question is that I do sculpture in school mostly because it acts as a "catch-all" for me. Saying, "I am a sculpture student" basically translates to “I don't really know what I do but at least I don't have to worry about it”. I used to get really bent out of shape when people would classify me as a photographer, but over the last couple years I realized that it really doesn't matter and that it is more of a compliment than anything.

A slightly provocative question: is "Documented Installation" simply and only a documentation? What lies behind this series?

You are going to hate this answer. I don't know that I have a good answer to this one, it is a tough one and it is talked about a lot in the art world. I don't want to split hair with definitions. This is the best "definition" that I personally have been able to come up with over the years for what I do: For me, I don't feel like my work is just documentation, but then again it is. The photograph is not the installation but then is it art? I don't know. For the most part it is what people see. I don't know if I worry about it too much anymore - maybe I should. Maybe I am just scared.

And if we moved beyond the pictures, what are the major thoughts behind these installations?

The major thought that transcends all of my work is relational existence. I am interested in asking questions about what it means to be in existence with other things, people, and thoughts. I find relationships to be one of the most important things as a person because so much is changed by them and through them. In general that is the thought but some of my work has specifics to it that may not all fall in that mould.

Between working outdoors and indoors, what do you prefer more?

The quick answer is outside. I really like doing gallery installations but I find that I work better outside. There are a lot more things to fight outside which helps me to be patient. Sometimes I have to wait several hours for the light to get right for a photograph. In the gallery it seems that I have more control.

You have been working in a number of artist collaborations. What do you cherish most about these?

I don't do a lot of collaborating when it comes to actually making the art. I do however talk to other artists very frequently to see what they think. Without other people and their input I don't think my art would be very successful.  Being able to share ideas and concepts with others is a valuable thing. Being challenged and told my ideas are wrong is a humbling and pretty awful experience, but it helps me to see how others view my work. Finding people/artists who will give you honest thoughts on your artwork is invaluable.

Would you say that meaning could shift a lot within conceptual art from the initial idea until the final art piece?

For the artist or for the viewer? For the viewer I think it is like any type of art. People are going to see things in the art that they want to see as well as understand it based on their own context(s). That being said, I do think that especially in conceptual art it is important to give limitations to the viewer so that you can help them get where you want them to go. Titles become really important for me in doing this, along with limiting distractions in the image(s). I also think that conceptual art demands a lot from the viewer. I don't mean "conceptual art" only, but any art with an overt concept. If there is thinking behind the piece, that means there is a more in-depth investment for the viewer.  That may be a good rule in life, not just for art.

Do you think that every artist's work is a 'product' of his or her time?

I sure hope so.

What are you working on currently?

I have a show coming up in October. The show deals with intentions and thoughts coupled with responsibility. The questions of if we are responsible for our intentions, thoughts and feelings and how/if they affect those around us.  I am doing some more 'documented installations' lately, as well. But those are still forthcoming.

Finally, any upcoming artists you have discovered recently?

Davey Hawkins is a buddy of mine that is making really good artwork in video and installation. Alexy Tiraenko isn't upcoming, but is someone I really like lately. I have been looking a lot more at photojournalists instead of fine-artists. There is something I like about photojournalism that I would like to use in my artwork. But maybe that is a contradiction. And, I just thought of another artist that is pretty up and coming who I look at: his name is Nick van Woert. He is a sculptor and a very good one at that.

Maybe the question isn't about documentation or reformulation. Take a look at his work!

No comments: