Margeaux Walter has given birth to the series Sign Language, where, through her images, she materializes the collapse of daily life, chaos and consumers in the society we have nowadays, losing their identity between the objects. They blend into the patterns of furniture, rugs or the floor, disappearing. In this way, she has made a research you can discover more about in this interview.
“I perform in many of the images, often repetitively, to compulsively experience the psychological environment that I am building. This process of acting and re-enacting allows me to dwell in the space between the real and perceived. By acting out my own identities, as well as those around me, I blur the identities of the characters I portray, while also describing the dissolution of the self in postmodern times.”
What did you want to tell with Sign Language and why did you do it this way?
Sign Language is a series of photographs that collapse everyday life into a form of abstraction. The images are about the fragility of identity in relation to consumer culture. Each image is a domestic scene that is then deconstructed into varying levels of chaos and order, obscuring the identities of the figures within them.
For each piece I wanted to form a dialogue with modernist painting – to flatten space, camouflage elements, and transform daily routines and moments into abstract shapes. I used myself as a model to experience each of the environments I built as well as the claustrophobia of aligning perfectly within them. The performative aspect of the work also nods to the constructed nature of images in commercial media.
What is photography for you and why did you choose it as your career?
I am primarily an artist that uses photography as a medium, though I do commercial photography as well. I use photography as a tool in my work because it is a language that has become completely absorbed by society, media and advertising. It has a large role in our memories as well as our creation of a self-image. I think the medium is one of the most powerful forms of communication today and since a lot of my work references advertising and commercial media it is important to embrace it in order to transform the message.
Do you have any advice for beginners in this field?
Just keep at it, and take risks. The best images I’ve done are usually the craziest ones in terms of process. Even if a project isn’t a success it is almost always a learning process that leads to the next one.
Where do you find the inspiration for your work? And how would you define your style?
I find inspiration mostly in my everyday routines as cheesy as that sounds. I learn a lot from simply watching people. Films have also been a big inspiration for me, especially filmmakers such as Tati and Kubrick.
I’m not really sure what you mean by style – my work is staged, highly constructed and graphic similar to a lot of advertising styles, and so in a way the style of my work references commercial media.
What do you do when you are not photographing?
My work is not all strictly photography – I do performance, video, some installation and other photo-based digital mediums. But outside of the studio I swim and hike a lot, and try to get out of the city as much as possible.
What gear –talking about camera and post processing– do you normally use for these shoots?
I use a Hasselblad H1 with a P65 back, and a 10 foot Gitzo tripod with a side arm to shoot overhead. I photograph the images in sections and tile them together in Photoshop so that they are extremely high resolution. The printed images are very large (up to 6x9 feet), allowing the viewer to see various levels of abstraction and details as they move towards the image.
From your work, which is your favorite picture and why? And from other’s work?
My favorite Sign Language image is Cocoon, but that is probably because it was my first one and seeing the final image after so much trial and error still seems a bit magical to me.
I could never pick a favorite image of someone else - there are way too many. Off the top of my head I’d say Stan Douglas’s Hasting Park is definitely on the list.