Laura Letinsky, an American artist, talks about supermarket strawberries and whatever works.



Part 01.




Laura Letinsky —


Morning ...
Sigh


Noon ...  
Rush rush rush


Night ...
mmm…


Perfect happiness ...
Choose not to share that here


Preposterous ...
Soy flavored bacon bits, ‘red’ flavor, supermarket strawberries in January


Fear... 
Ignore, or never get out of bed


Extravagance ...
Naps


Comedy ...
Being a parent


Work ...
Always 


Our time ...
Much like any other time, inexorably complicated


The future ...
I hope


The past ...
Resist, relish and move on


Part 02.





Most interesting thing in your wallet ...
A poker chip given to me by my son



Laura Letinsky —


In another life, you'd be ...
A cook, a thief


Your lucky charm ...
Whatever works


Words to live by ...
Keep going.


Prized possession ...
my legs, heart, eyes and lungs


One wish ...
As a kid, I used to say that I’d wish for a thousand wishes


Your most marked characteristic ...
Energetic


  
Laura Letinsky —


A dream dinner party would be made up of who (dead or alive) ...
A better question would be marry/ fuck/ kill ?

 
Favorite shoes ...
Anything with heels that doesn’t hurt (too) much 


Favorite store ...
Blake, Value Village, Target

Favorite friend ...
My best one.


Favorite place ...
Bed, garden, Rome


Favorite color ...
Opal {okay, I’m cheating as there’s a spectrum here}



Wisława Szymborska by Wojciech Plewiński — 1980



Favorite book ...
Couldn’t limit it to authors, but including Roland Barthes, Wislawa Szymborska, Lydia Davis, Gertrude Stein


Favorite website ...

Pretty promiscuous here, but in the realm of food and cooking blogs


A favorite photo that you've taken ...
That’s like asking to choose which child is the favorite. But for now, this is one I have in my head.



Butterfly, E.J. Bellocq © The Smithsonian


A favorite photo that someone else has taken ...
Impossible to name one. Bellocq’s work though has been resonating with me for a long time. It’s the combination of the work itself and the narrative that surrounds the work and the photographer, as well as how it all came to be known.


Part 03.




Laura Letinsky —


What do you love most about photography ...

I’ve really more of a love/hate relationship with the medium. That it seems to give us the here and now but never really fulfills its promise… it’s the structure of desire and who doesn’t like that? The transformation the medium performs on the world remains beguiling for me. It is important to me that the picture is the thing, that is, if you walked into my studio you would never see the photograph until it is made.


Describe your creative process ...

Think, make, look (repeat ad infinitum and not necessarily in this order)



To Want for Nothing, Laura Letinsky — 2009


What is your inspiration ...

I feel self conscious using that word, “inspiration” for as much as it’s integral to making art, it’s such a small part of the process. I make art because there’s a sense that someone needs to make this thing and I’m the only one who can. That if I didn’t do it, I’d go mad ? I’m moved as much by painting, music, literature, and poetry as by the warm sun, biting into a freshly picked tomato, the bite of bitterly sharp winter air…


  
Laura Letinsky —


I love the idea that absence can tell just as much as presence. Talk about this ...

Absence is negative space and as such marks what is not there as much as what is there. The emptiness invites, even demands associations of longing, memory, want.


From the series To Say It Isn’t So, Laura Letinsky  — 2006


When I look at your work I’m always reminded of Miss Havisham, Dickens’ character in Great Expectations. What role do memory and loss play in your work ...

As Roland Barthes put it much more articulately than I ever could, memory and loss are inherent to photography. That is, the photograph is just that, always loss, what was and will never be again. I guess I ’m a photographer because its in my nature to be rolling around in this particular muck.


You’ve said that you can’t have utopia without its loss. Tell me more about this …

I understand such ideas as dichotomous constructions, the one predicated upon the other. Utopia is a romantic ideal and as such, is doomed to inevitable failure with the requisite disappointment. Not to mention, a kind of violence as any one utopia must necessarily usurp all others’ wants and needs as well as enforcing a pretty strict sense of ignorance, blinders if you will to all that doesn’t conform. Utopias make me nervous on so many levels. I’m much more comfortable with trying to make do, in dealing with what is before me, to make this okay if not fabulous.


  
Laura Letinsky —


There’s a clear intention in  the composition of your work, yet it’s also so human. How do you achieve the balance …

A delicate if not entirely conscious (at least not before the point) balance between neurosis and klutziness.



To Want for Nothing , Laura Letinsky — 2009


Color plays such an important role in your work. Tell me more about this ...

The world looks this way to me. While it’s natural to me to work in this palette, or at least it’s one I always slide into, I’m cognizant of its effect, the psychological and emotional qualities generated through these choices.


  
Laura Letinsky —


Do you ever re-create moments from your own life? If so, which ones and why? If not, why not ...

Not directly. While one can’t help be affected by events and associations within daily life, I’ve always been suspicious about artists who use their personal circumstances to validate their work. Not to diminish the importance and relevance of such circumstances but these don’t supersede the sort of intellectual and artistic querying of which I understand art to generate.

As communication, art is a digestive process and good art is surprising, confounding, provocative, and pleasure on many many levels including the aesthetic, intellectual, and the visceral, not that I’d make any claims about drawing boundaries between these categories.


  
Laura Letinsky —


You’d transitioned from human subjects to inanimate objects. Talk about this. Also, what are the attributes of the living vs. the non-living ...

When I was working with people on the “Venus Inferred” project, thinking about love and its representation, I grew frustrated with certain aspects of the project including photographing people, at least in this context. The inevitability of the demise of the promise of photography and romance, that perfection is only available in hindsight or in future longings, seemed to set up a predictability for me and the subjects that seemed insurmountable, beyond me, beyond change…. As far as working with objects, people ascribe meaning to objects, objects acquire meaning as ascribed by people. In some ways, not so different really, but for me, in using objects there was a kind of liberation in what I could do plastically through formal means, and thus in making meaning, or, in other words, in making art.

And besides rot and fruit flies, the objects stay pretty much where I leave them when I stop working for the night.



Laura Letinsky — 


I love the idea of telling stories through objects. What elements are fundamental to a meaningful narrative ...

Humans can’t help assigning meaning to things, to making stories out of what is around them. This seems pretty fundamental (religion a good indication of this). History, politics, and culture all factor in to provide common narratives to which we subscribe to greater or lesser degrees depending on socio-economics, gender, sexual orientation, race, etc.

While symbols used to be much more powerful in smaller, more enclosed communities, the widespread dissemination of information through media has played a part in providing us with a lot of commonalities e.g. a red rose signals true love, if you love her put a ring on it, coke is the real thing , and so on.

I’m less interested in so-called symbols, but more intrigued by the societal reinforcement of associating objects with particular ideas. Making pictures gives me a voice in this arena, querying how and why this is so but always through a combination of form, thought, and gut instinct. In making pictures I hope for me and my viewers to have a sense of defamiliarization, of seeing things anew but in a way that makes another kind of sense, emotionally and psychologically compelling if a bit smelly or maybe at other times, arid.