Monday, May 26, 2008
Chat It Up: Artist Interview with Photographer Beth Montoya
I took a bit of a break and finished finals ( All A's , thank you) and went to New York ( got my bag stolen) but more on all that later. In this artist interview we catch up with Beth Montoya. She is a very good friend of mine who recently left the city of Chicago for Dayton, Ohio? But non the less she produces some very interesting work via photo, more specifically digital photos. Her work is very seductive in many ways, the great shots shes able to get with a digital camera, the often inclusion of sexuality, and the fact that they speak of moments that we often find very uninteresting, moments alone. You know the kind of moments shows like the Real World edit out of the final aired shows. Also in a way they speak of the form of feminism existent post women's right to vote and the whole feminist movement of the 70's and 80's. It draws on questions of what does feminism mean today in contemporary politics and society. Liberation, freedom, sex and proud?! Below we discuss her influence from Myspace and Facebook, the popular inclusion of shot glasses in contemporary self portraits, and Edward Hopper and his depressing yet beautiful works. Enjoy!!!
Emanuel Aguilar: So hello Mrs. Montoya for the record please state your full name and title.
Beth Montoya: Hello, Emanuel. My name is Beth Montoya, former bank teller.
EA: Haha. I see. well thank you for agreeing to this interview. Now i know you have said in the past you don't consider yourself an artist but I find your photography work to be out most interesting, how would you describe your photo work.
BM: Well, thank you. I'd say my work is pretty self-indulgent. Most people I know don't like to pose and I'm not generally one for scenic shots, so I just photograph myself. It's sort of half photography, half modeling. Without the anorexia.
EA: Yes, I kinda feel the same way about my work sometimes. Plus other people frustrate easily sometimes. So you would say your work is more of a productive way to pass time or do you have messages within these works. haha. Yes, very much so. maybe a little of bitchy also though, I mean they are all about you and nothing but you
BM: I definitely do tend to take more photos when there's nothing on TV and I've been on the internet for too long, but I also take these photos to show that there are more interesting ways of presenting yourself than with boring, smiling head shots.
EA: HaHa. so in a way there a response to myspace and facebook.
BM: Very much so. Nothing disappoints me more than seeing badly cropped pictures of someone posing for the camera with a shot glass.
EA: I mean you do include hints of popular culture within these photos. But the photos themselves seem very distant from popular culture or society in a way. Kinda like your in this jail or box and your only understanding of the outside is via the computer.
BM: Well, I'm a pretty distant person. I couldn't put a picture of me partying it up on my facebook profiles because such pictures do not exist.
EA: Ha, I think I've seen a few, but I also think I'm the only other person included in those photos. Distance sometimes is important in a world with so little privacy , I mean how hard is it to really just google someone and find them and all their past internet history, its almost scary. Your photos remind me of how important sometimes it is to self reflect and find ones place within the craziness that is life. I mean theres a slutty, a dorky, a geek, a jock, a everything within us all.
BM: I like self portraits because you're completely in control of the result. You decide what parts of yourself you want to show and you do it in a way that hopefully has some beauty in it. Or ugliness, if that's what you're going for. Or beauty in ugliness.
EA: Nicely Put. Ha yes, Ugly can be pretty sometimes.........Do you go into a photo knowing exactly what kind of character to portray or do you just come up with it as you go?
BM: I generally have a certain mood in mind, but I also take a lot of pictures so I can try variations. The wonders of digital cameras.
EA: Ah yes. One of the greatest invention up there with Wii and fat free soft serve ice cream. So any artist or celebrity influences you'd say are big inspirations?
BM: As you know, I've always been partial to Edward Hopper's depressing paintings. There's an untold story in each one. An untold story of isolation and loneliness. I don't think all of my photos necessarily tell a story (mostly because that involves props and settings and things I'm generally not in the mood to bother with), but I'm a big fan of isolation as portrayed in art.
EA: HAHA. You know your fascination with Mr. Hopper never made so much sens eto me as it does now. I mean you are like a living Edward Hopper painting.
BM: I think you'll agree that being social is overrated.
EA: So in conclusion, do you think you would ever consider your work as art , I mean i feel in a way your work can speak very loudly to many people on translatable terms, .... And Yes I do agree with that, sometimes all we need is a nice cup of coffee a comfy chair and a poke your friend electronic button to have a social life, and you know what thats ok with me.
BM: At the very least, I try to be artistic about the presentation. Sometimes I just take pictures of myself to be vain and see which angle of my face is the most flattering. But, you know, that's something everyone should try. Everyone can present themselves as interesting and beautiful if they're not afraid to put down the shot glass and wipe off that phony smile. And if, in the process, you can make a statement with your presentation, then, well, that's pretty cool.
EA: Your a genius, I say. Thank you very much for your time. I hope to see more vanity and self indulgence form you in the future. Till then have a pleasant day, I would say exiting and fun filled, but you currently live in Ohio.
BM: I will try.