Woman Crush Wednesday: Olivia Becchio
Photography and Words by Olivia Becchino
Photo Editor and Interview by Xinxin Zhang
“It’s A Shame about Ray” (2017)
Its a Shame About Ray, as a series, aims to articulate an island as a psychological space and to document a 'coming of age' brought about by the realization of death, or the process of how one comes to understand it, amidst an isolated but intoxicatingly beautiful landscape. Ray becomes the narrator of a story punctuated by death and longing to belong and be remembered. I don't think of 'Ray' as any one specific person but rather a place holder for all that we have lost and as a signifier for all of us who tempt, and even at times, run willingly towards death.
Woman Crush Questionnaire:
1. What is your motivation to make your genre of photographic art?
This is something that I am still trying to figure out, but sometimes I feel like my photography is similar to a autobiographical scavenger hunt. I am looking for tokens, signifiers of faith in something, records of life or death, evidence of some sort of humanistic experience. Internal conflict or catharsis, written in the natural world. And in much relation to the following question... as an effort to immortalize or monumentalize my most profound mistakes and experiences that I claim or lean on to try and define and explain myself or who I am.
2. How does your cultural background influence your art?
This is a difficult question to answer for me since I was not raised by the teaching of any particular religion (any religion at all, really) or beliefs of any one group, besides that of being a New Englander or an islander, and I have always struggled to define what, exactly my culture is. I guess the lack of that teaching of a concrete, defining or ruling force causes me to seek out things like photography in my life, something to lend greater weight to what is most special to me, to elevate my deepest feelings of connection or belonging or vise versa. and most likely to blame for my obtuse devotion to, or fetishization of, the island I come from.
3. What is the most difficult thing you have experienced making photos?
Portraiture. Definitely. Realizing the power you have with a camera in your hands and how that effects the people you photograph. I took this photograph of my mother and I sitting on her bed in my sophomore year and I was so proud of it. For me it felt like I had overcame an obstacle or limitation in my work. I had put both of us in a vulnerable position with the camera as witness and it was well received by my peers and professors. I felt as though I had reached a level of honestly in my photographs that I hadn't been able to before, therefore better able to communicate, through my photographs, with other people. It was a risk and it was rewarded and It felt like me. But when I showed my mother the photo she was greatly offended. She didn't appreciate the way I portrayed her or our relationship. This broke my heart but it taught me that you should never exploit someone else's vulnerability for the sake of explanation, you can only offer up your own and that some photographs, though they need to be taken, should remain private as they are only the first step towards the one you don't yet know you are looking for.
Artistic Lifestyle Questionnaire:
1. How would you describe your creative process in one word?
Uhm, whats the opposite of ‘prolific', haha?
2. If you would teach one, one-hour class on anything, what would it be?
hmm, probably something in the darkroom. I miss that space and that time in my life when that was where I was most comfortable.
3. What was the last book you read or film you saw that inspired you?
Nicholas Muellner. In particular his essay, No Such Place.
4. What is the most played song in your iTunes Library?
I regrettably no longer have an iTunes library, but when I did it was most likely something by Led Zeppelin or Radiohead. The last song I remember being truly obsessed with is Green Arrow by Yo La Tengo, from their 1997 album named, I can hear the Heart Beating as One.
5. How do you take your coffee?
Recently, I have come to appreciate a little bit of cream and sugar.