I am very grateful for the efforts he has made and for giving me the opportunity to put these questions to him.
Timothy Archibald's photographs have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, GQ, The New Yorker and Outside Magazine. His photographs are included in the permanent collection of the Catskill Center for Photography(Woodstock, NY) and The Museum of Sex(NY). He lives in San Francisco with his wife Cheri and two sons.
Lars von Trier added something called a “lookey” to his latest film, a “visual element that is added out of context to a movie”. Is it fair to say that a lot of your work is photographing “lookies” in real life?
I guess I’m always looking for something kind of unusual and aberrant that is found in something very very familiar. That combination worked real well in Sex Machines, meaning it was like finding this filthy disgusting sexual creation pulled out of your id, and finding it in a very comforting and familiar environment. I played with that pairing in earlier work, but it really came together in Sex Machines. As far as projects since then, the core seems to come from finding something very human that everyone can relate to, and combining it with something very foreign. Which is the same thing…huh?
You’ve also cited Leon Borensztein’s One is Adam, One is Superman: The Artists of Creative Growth as an inspiration which features portraits of handicapped artists. What inspired you from this book? What do you think of the featured artists’ work being labelled “outside art” and in general, are labels and gradations of art in any way useful?
"I just loved the idea that these artists could be so great at what they did, make powerful art and really own their genre, but the genre was so small they just weren’t household names."
I’ve always had attraction to artwork that looked naïve or innocent, folk art, comic book art, things that seemed to be dwelling in this kind of d.i.y. ghetto or something. Comic book artists such as Daniel Clowes, Peter Bagge and Ivan Brunetti have all been super big influences. I just loved the idea that these artists could be so great at what they did, make powerful art and really own their genre, but the genre was so small they just weren’t household names. I think it was Bagge that even referred to his audience as a small collection of drug addicts and perverts, many of whom live with their parents! Maybe it was Clowes who said that. They were kidding, of course, but more so they were just exaggerating to make a point.