INTERVIEW WITH KATE BONNER
Why did you decide to integrate 3D space into your photography?
It might be the other way around—that I was interested in integrating photography into 3D space. Even when I work with flat planes mounted on a wall, I’m thinking about space. I’m thinking about the allegory of space, the language of including and excluding, of interior space and exterior space. And I just happen to be using photographs as a material to break into that space, to layer, to cut into it, to fold it, to splice it, to create multiple spaces in one flat area.
Right now I have twenty tabs full of images layered on top of each other in my internet browser. What kind of space exists between those tabs? There are thousands of photos stacked on top of each other in my dropbox folder, and all of these settings/events/people become related because they happen to be stored next to each other.
Pieces such as “Among other things” dovetail perfectly with their environments – in this case, fitting perfectly against a wall. When you’re making a piece, do you consider the gallery space it will inhabit?
I don’t think that I consider the gallery space specifically, but I do consider it in a general way. For example, if a wall piece has a cut in the center, the wall behind it will become part of the piece. It could be any wall, but that wall, no matter which one it is, is still implicated by the artwork. “Among other things” could work in a variety of places, as long as the wall was the right kind of wall for it to lean against.
Which artists or artworks do you converse with in your work either purposely or by happenstance?
These days I’m pretty interested in Louise Nevelson and her cabinet-like shapes.
Your pieces feel like mixed-media poems, in the sense that they capture more of a vibe or feeling, rather than a tangible moment. Do you have a feeling you aim for in a piece or does it reveal itself in the process of making it?
There is an introspective guarded feeling that I aim for, and a certain kind of flat-sharp color thing. Positive colors. I like a kind of push-pull, or sometimes a subtle clash. Closed-in, fragmented, incomplete. I don’t set out thinking, “I want this piece to have a beach vibe,” or anything like that.
In what kind of environment do you create? Listening to music? In silence? Etc.
I’m usually very focused in on details, and need to feel a sense of time passing to pace myself or keep my mind moving, so I listen to Spotify playlists, or podcasts, or KQED. My studio is located next to a capoeira studio, so sometimes I realize that I‘ve been priming and painting surfaces listening to jungle drumming for the past 40 minutes, which is a pretty intense feeling.
Tell me a little about your connection to minimalism. What minimalist artists, if any, do you emulate? How do you decide what stays and what goes?
I moved a lot as a kid. And in my early twenties I moved even more. I feel overwhelmed when belongings start to pile up. I love the efficiency and freedom of only a few things; my only blanket for the longest time was my sleeping bag. I like things sparse, direct, efficient.
In my work, I usually decide on what stays based on formal reasoning, like color choices. I try to cut out the heart of an image, and leave the fragment borders. In my work, it is very important that things are cut out.
In your piece Every point is the center, you bridge the gaps between different materials and photos to create unlikely patterns. Would you consider your work a form of collage?
Yes, even in my simpler images there is often some kind of collage of image and object, both in the scanned image, and in the final object-photo.
The act of framing is an important part of your work – you crop and fold your images. You also literally use and repurpose picture frames. What does this different type of framing reveal that traditional framing can’t?
Frames are generally invisible. Frames are meant to elevate an image or to protect it – both purposes are sentimental in a way that I can’t honestly relate to. I treat my images in an opposite way, casually assembling them and then cutting them apart. When I use frames, or make frames, I’m using them as a spatial allegory/a narrative metaphor/a philosophic tool. I’m using frames to create an interior and an exterior.
Which projects are you working on in the near future? Are there any new materials you would like to work with, or particular spaces you want to work in?
Lately I have been waking up on Saturday morning to watch YouTube videos about cabinet-making. In my work now, I am building frames and small cabinets—creating small spaces and contained objects and then opening (emptying?) them by cutting into them. I’ve spent a substantial amount of time with CNC routers, creating pieces that can fit together, as if one object is passing through the other. I’m thinking very generally about domestic and exterior spaces.
I have new work up soon in a solo show at Luis De Jesus in Los Angeles, CA (4/23-5/28) and at NADA Fair in New York with Et. al gallery (5/5-5/8). This work features more hand-produced gestures: CNC cuts of drawing-inspired vector shapes, and painted textures.