Issue 22: Interview with Vanessa Kotovich
Interview by Kala Herh
Let’s talk about your most recent project, Natura. It’s a beautiful body of work. The project documents the decay of idyllic sanctuaries. What made you want to capture such beauty in such decomposition?
In the series Natura- Pleasure Garden ,I wanted to push myself by working with material I found unsettling yet beautiful. I was inspired by historical flemish floral paintings and botanical illustrations. With the presence of decay comes an unease, which when broken down holds a certain beauty.
How does this impending climate crisis influence the way you represent nature in your photos?
An appreciation for the natural world often arises through a deep emotional connection. Ever since a young age I loved being outdoors. A sense of exploration, appreciation, and fascination I hope is translated through the images. While making the collection I gained a much deeper sense of the flushing and fading of life and its interconnectedness.
When I saw your images, most specifically Plate IX, that exudes a sense of fragility. It seems like you embrace the discomfort of the world and convey that into your photos. What do you hope these images convey or what it doesn’t?
Plate IX was one of the first images I had taken within the series. The subject matter itself contains its own fragility. The disconnects between worlds I find very fascinating, as a suburban farm sits upon a land where a fallen baby bird has just landed. It is the collision of each where their own blind eye is opened, and at times uncomfortably.
I read that you recently completed your LugoLand residency. Thats very impressive! How do you think that shaped your current endeavors?
Within the LugoLand Residency in Italy I focused on historical aspects of the town, in particular the churches and cathedrals. The ornate and decorative interiors remained while the fluorescent lighting, plastic forms, and sightseers filled the space. I am currently continuing yet pushing this concept of a collision of history and space to emphasize a collage-like atmosphere. My current photographs work with various disjointed layers. Brightly colored commercial emblems placed on to a chaos of reality while historical motifs weave their way through.
I’m particularly interested in your methodology you use, this transposing of different image layers on one photo. Can you elaborate on why you chose such a process?
I develop layers while I am photographing, there is no photoshop or double exposure manipulations. I like to build scenes and details upon each other, adding a sense of disorientation. At times I arrange material within the space pulling the foreground and background into each other. This being said, I also like to blending spontaneity with arrangement. Much of making art I feel is about experimentation, ritual, and a sense of meditative playfulness.
To view more of Vanessa’s work, visit her website here.