Interview: Stephanie Jane Halmos

Grant Gill: What is your background as a photographer? Who or what inspired you to start making art, and how did you go forth to make this career work for you?

Stephanie Jane Halmos: I began making photographs when I was fifteen. Though I was immediately very comfortable and excited about being behind the camera, in my teen years I looked primarily at surrealist painters and spent time trying to wrap my head around what it mean to be an "artist". It seemed to be a professional and social space that allowed for extreme amounts of freedom, and that is what I was most drawn to -- which I admit is both incredibly naive and romantic.
Learning the photographic craft was the next step. I received my BFA and concentrated in photography. Knowing my craft continues to be invaluable, no matter the technical evolution of the medium... and I will argue this case until the day I die. It's not just about conceptual strengths to make interesting images, it is also about the ability to render the images perfectly.
I then moved to New York, where having a niche works well in order to find a way to make the art world there manageable. New York gave me my second education as an artist.

Towel, 2010 © Stephanie Jane Halmos

Grant Gill: With your series "Seen In Looking", I noticed that you used the same model, possibly yourself (I apologize, I am unaware of your appearance). Could you speak about the use of that model, or if it is indeed you, could you speak about the use of self-portraiture within your work?

Stephanie Jane Halmos: The model in this particular series ["Seen In Looking"] is occasionally me, but otherwise was somewhat of a "muse: at the time. There was something about making her image that really excited me as I created this body of work, as she neither interfered nor became neutral in her surrounding landscape. She also has this sort of beautiful, non-threatening body.
As for my making self-portraits, I find I do it more and more as my work becomes increasingly performative. Right now I am finding it very exciting to navigate between being the subject, object and author of an image (or video), but this changes depending on the tone of the work or other factors.

In Reeds at Dawn, 2007 © Stephanie Jane Halmos

Grant Gill: To me, most the imagery in "Seen In Looking" seems fantastical, almost dream like, and there seems to be a shift to your works in progress. Is there in fact a change in the content your dealing with, or is your works in progress just a further exploration into concepts you work with? Can you talk about the different approaches to both series?

Stephanie Jane Halmos: I consider "Seen In Looking" to be a completed body of work. I have been showing it around the country for the last couple years now and am more in the process of handling editions and printed materials as opposed to producing new images for the series. Conceptually speaking, I feel that work is resolved and thus I have moved forward to new ideas. I may re-visit the project in the future... who know. But my work is progressing in different directions at this point and that is one of the most exciting things about this profession -- the times of great artistic change.
The works in progress are just that. They are images which will be part of a larger body of work that is being developed.

2011 © Stephanie Jane Halmos

Grant Gill: Right now, whose work have you currently been looking at or inspired by?

Stephanie Jane Halmos: This is a great question. I think it's important that we are active "lookers" and readers. Right now I am looking a lot at video and performance artists, as well as a couple of photographers and painter: Mika Rottenberg, Hannah Wilke, Lilly McElroy, Pipilotti Rist, Candice Breitz, Liz Cohen, and Luis Gispert, to name a few.
But I am also looking a lot at musicians and pop culture. I really enjoy thinking about pop culture as a performance space and I find myself interested in the musician Peaches, as well as Nicki Minaj and Kanye West. You will notice I am primarily interested and influenced by women at the moment, too.

Self Portrait with Gun, 2010 © Stephanie Jane Halmos

Grant Gill: What do you do when you are stuck with a project you are on? Do you ever just leave it to sit for awhile and then come back to it, or are you constantly working?

Stephanie Jane Halmos: I usually don't like to walk away and come back to a project, though that is certainly a smart technique for a lot of people. I typically take the "make, make, make" approach. I just shoot through it, even if it is all garbage. A great lesson I learned was that not everything I make needs to have an audience. this knowledge allowed me the freedom to "fail" sometimes which is essential. So even if I am unsure about a piece or a project, I just bowl forward nonetheless. Self-editing before the work is actually made (or at least "sketched") does me no good.
Of course, everyone has a different workflow in their studio in terms of dealing with times of frustration.

Undressing, 2009 © Stephanie Jane Halmos

Grant Gill: I noticed you work in other mediums, specifically video. Are you starting to drift away from photography to do more video work?

Stephanie Jane Halmos: I am making a lot of video work right now, yes. The things I am interested in call for video, and concept dictates medium, not the other way around.
I am still shooting photos, but I am not planning on showing them right now. The videos are more where my head is at and what I am really excited by.

For more work of Stephanie Halmos visit here website at stephaniehalmos.com.

All Images © Stephanie Jane Halmos. Obtained with Permission from the Artist.

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