Wednesday, 12 September 2007


In her series 'Inscape' and 'other orchards', Ahndraya Parlato has created a solid though intriguingly indefinable body of work. Into everyday settings, she inserts a grain of discomfort whose resultant tension wears over time and in turn makes repeated viewings of her work a new revelation.

Following her work, it is anything but linear, full of tension and contradiction, exposition and mystery. They are hard to grasp and without a definite trajectory, I am looking forward to seeing what she will will come up with next.

Born in Kailua, Hawaii in 1979, Ahndraya received a B.A. from Bard College and went on to graduate from the California College of Arts with an M.F.A. where she returned to lecture. She now teaches at Ithaca College in New York state.

Your images have a lot of variety in content and location, which seems to imply spontaneity even for images, which are obviously setup (or so it seems). Would you give us some insight into how your images come about and what typically sparks an idea into an image?
I very consciously work at creating a body of work that is thematically & conceptually cohesive rather than say, uses one subject matter as the premise for an entire series. I have never been drawn to work that is “all photographs of” couples, abandoned houses etc, they always seem too succinct and all-encompassing – a bit smug – rather like they’re telling us something instead of asking – for me, making photographs is also an act of exploring, so I may have ideas I want to work on, but I don’t know exactly what it is I’m looking for – if I did, I feel like to a certain extent, there would be no point in making the images. Subsequently, I tend to be interested in more expansive bodies of work – or ones that although conceptually or thematically unified, might allow for a certain diversity or range within subject matter; I am thinking of artists like Jeff Wall, Collier. Schorr and Wolfgang Tillmans.

Sometimes, before taking a photograph I have specific ideas I want to convey and I will write them down and think about the things that for me visually connote these ideas.

Things like:
  • Trying to contain the uncontainable
  • A private language
  • The inside is unsafe
  • The outside is an extension of the inside
  • Where do people place their reality w/in a socially constructed/accepted reality and how much do they deny it to fit in?

(I love list making)

I am, however, a bit of a creature of habit, the image ideas I come up with usually are sparked by something I have seen a million times, a thicket I pass in the car everyday, a gesture someone often does, I am TERRIBLE at shooting on the fly or in a new, unfamiliar location, I travel a lot and I never even bring my camera – despite it being a 4 X 5, which can be a bit cumbersome, I hate the stress of creating an image at a place I can’t readily re-access or don’t already know.

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