Wavepool – When and why did you start using yourself and your mother as subjects to make Natural Deceptions?
Natalie Krick – In a way – it was accidental. My mom visited me in 2009 when I was living in Chicago and I persuaded her to pose. At the time I was finding women online who I would dress up in exaggerated make up and wigs and photograph. In these first photographs I made of my mother she’s dressed as me wearing a black wig and my favorite lipstick. When I got the negatives back I knew there was something there. I was fascinated that through photography I was able to make someone so familiar to me – unfamiliar. I also am enamored by her age! I found a complexity in her photographs that wasn’t present in the other portraits that I was making. As the project unfolds (I started appearing in the pictures fairly recently) I think about the different ways our relationship effects the meaning of the work. She plays an older version of me, I am her younger self, both fictional and autobigoraphical and yet we are always posing after someone else. Many of my ideas come from popular culture and fashion photography and working with my mother forced me to make photographs that are very personal (which was something that I was desperately trying to avoid).
Wavepool – Why were you intentionally steering away from the personal in previous work?
Natalie Krick – Mostly, because I was in graduate school and I was too concerned with the opinions of others.
Wavepool – I really love the sense of imitation in the work and the impossibility of separating your figure from your mother’s figure. Obviously you and your mother are not identical subjects, but each image can only reveal one through the other. Did the work read differently before you entered into it as a subject?
Natalie Krick – The project was different before I started appearing in the photographs. I was thinking about Alfred Stieglitz’s photographs of Georgia O’Keefe and this fascination or obsession with photographing the same person over and over. Do many photographs of the same subject reveal more than a singular image? I wanted to play with that idea and from the beginning my aim was to see what could be revealed when her identity shifted from photograph to photograph. I think the work does read differently now, partially because I am in the pictures but also because I am more playful when I make photographs. I want to reflect on the absurdity of femininity in pop culture and how that trickles down to my daily life. I want to convey a sense of humor and I struggled to achieve that when I was only making photographs of her, possibly the portraits were too believable?
Wavepool – In what ways do you think the images may have been too believable? How is that being addressed in the new images?
Natalie Krick – Well … at that time I intended for them to be more believable. The relationship between fiction and reality in portraiture fascinates me! This is one of the reasons why I use a flash, it’s my way of pointing to the candid snapshot aesthetic. Although the first portraits in this project were heavily stylized I don’t know if my hand was always visible or obvious. I used titles to reveal the construction of the picture (for example Mom with skittles in her shirt). After awhile I started feeling frustrated and stuck working only in that specific way but I didn’t think the project was complete. In many of the new images I further manipulate what is in front of the lens: incorporating pages and fragments cut from magazines and my own prints, using paper to mask off sections of my body and tweaking things digitally.
Wavepool – There also seems to be a slight shift away from direct representation of yourself or your mother, both in title and in the image itself. Do you see that as an important direction moving forward?
Natalie Krick – Definitely! I do really enjoy making photographs that fall into that category but only working in that way is limiting. Lately I’ve been making collages from images cut from fashion magazines and then recreating the collages with photographs that I’ve made of my mother, my sister and myself. So far they are all faceless amalgamations of our bodies – pretty far from direct representations.
Wavepool – Why is it important to you that the collages be remade with your photographs as opposed to existing as they were made with those source materials? Do you see yourself or your mother ever leaving your practice as a subject?
Natalie Krick – By using my own photographs, I can capture and revel in the details of the body from bits of body hair to wrinkles (the parts that are usually erased). There’s also the act of making these ubiquitous images personal through a performance for the camera that is important to the work. And I NEED to have control over the color and size.
I’m sure I’ll move on to something or someone else eventually.
To see more, please visit Natalie’s website.