A Dip Into the Archives: Ryan McGinley
Ryan McGinley: nudists of the subterrain
Interview by Andrea Blanch
You’ve been going on yearly road trips since 2004. What kept this way of working new and exciting for over a decade?
The American landscape is so vast. There’s so much to explore. Every summer, I would just chip away a part of America. We would hit the road and shoot for three months straight. I would come back, and edit and have exhibitions, and then go back to the drawing board and figure out new things that I wanted to explore in America. There’s just so much, and I still feel like I haven’t come close to seeing what I want to see.
I’m so interested in different parts. Down south the landscape was so diverse and rich and interesting, with the swamps and the cypher trees. I spent summers doing different sand dunes in Colorado and Utah and New Mexico. I spent time in Washington State in the rainforest, and shooting along the Bay Area through Oregon, up through Seattle, WA. I did caves across America. That almost took two years because I was so into it, exploring all the networks of different subterranean environments. The majority of the caves are the area called TAGs, which stands for Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, which is where most of the caves in the United States are. I’ve done so many things.
Are there any must-have qualities that you search for in every place you photograph?
I really go for the landscape more than anything. Other than that, it’s just to explore somewhere I’ve never been. When I grew up, I never really traveled. I’m one of eight kids, so we could never afford to go anywhere, and we stayed in the tri-state area. So when I got to start doing road trips, it was exciting for me because I’ve only seen that stuff in movies.
What went on behind the scenes while you were working on the winter nudes in icy landscapes? It’s amazing for me that you got the people to do that.
I think that the people who want to be part of my project are really dedicated. I take every measure possible to make sure they are comfortable. With the winter series, the first thing we did was have a sauna. It was an ice fishing tent that can fit four people at a time. I would bring two propane heaters, and we would get the tent to about one hundred degrees. The models for my project would sit in that tent. Everybody would be in winter gear going to each location, so we were all suited up, and sometimes we would have to hike two or three miles to get to a really great place.
Want to read the full interview? Click here to see it in Musée issue No. 15 Place !