Interview: Emily Keegin

 © Emily Keegin

Joshua Ramirez: If you could tell the viewer what your work was about in one sentence, what would you say about it?

© Emily Keegin

Emily Keegin: American girlhood told through the objects she loves.

© Emily Keegin
Joshua Ramirez: I understand that your website was hacked. Would you be able to possibly describe your reactions to the incident and whether the incident has made you more cautious about displaying work on the internet?

Emily Keegin: Yeah! Hacking blows! 

But…if the crazy Viagra hawking hackers know I exist, I must be doing something right.  Right? Silver lining?

Making art in your studio every day can be very isolating. The web is a nice way to feel like you’re not just shouting into a void. Sometimes people find your site and put you in a show. And sometimes they hack you.

(there is probably a life lesson in there about risk taking)

           © Emily Keegin             

Joshua Ramirez: Would you be able to describe your thought/work process behind a body of work? Do you think about it/research it profoundly or do you just start photographing? How does working in a studio setting affect your workflow?

Emily Keegin: I wish I were a methodical artist. I have dear friends who plot a project beginning to end, spending hours in the library and then executing the plan impeccably.  It’s a rare occasion when I have similar luck with a pre-planned project. My most successful bodies of work are the ones that grow organically. One photograph/ one mistake / one piece/ inspires the next. This method of working tends to be messy and there are long stretches when things seem awkward. You can also end up with rolls of unusable film. But I’ve found that I need to physically work through an idea.  And if I keep going, if I keep making work- even if it feels out of place or tangential--things eventually fall together.   

© Emily Keegin

For the last few years my work has been wrestling with ideas of male/female sexuality, sports iconography and tools of domesticity.   Before that I was making work about music & longing (memory).  There was substantial overlap between the music work and the newer work with the pivotal image being the self-portrait with the boom box, “bringing it all back home (soft eject)”. This image happened completely by accident one bored Saturday afternoon. I was sitting in my studio drinking a beer, making a mix tape…. I didn’t think much of the image at first. But it buzzed in a way that was new and exciting to me. And so I spent another afternoon working with my body and objects in front of the camera. And another. And another. And things began to shift away from music until suddenly the central idea in my work was not sound& memory, but girlhood and memory.  I don’t think I could have gotten to this without physically working through it.

Joshua Ramirez: What would you say is the biggest challenge that you have as a photographer in a World that is so saturated by images?

Emily Keegin: In 2005 I began working as a photo editor for Time Magazine. This job drastically changed my relationship to photography.  Being bombarded by images all day I became acutely aware of how puny genre was as a defining characteristic. Things always get much more exciting when many different types of photographs were seen together.
© Emily Keegin
Joshua Ramirez: What do you want your photos to do or say?

Emily Keegin: I want to make work that on first look feels like the song of the summer. But holds your gaze with a sharp sardonic undertone.

© Emily Keegin

Joshua Ramirez: Lastly, would you be able to tell us briefly about your origins in the medium and where you plan on heading in the future with it?

Emily Keegin:  
There’s black and white photograph of my mother standing in front of the fireplace that is the first photograph I remember seeing.

 She’s naked and 8 months pregnant. Her hair is long and tied behind her neck, a style I never saw her wear. She looks down the barrel of her camera, reserved, matter-of-fact-like, not quite smiling. A long cable release is in her left hand. Her right hand reaches out toward our ancient Portuguese water dog, Govinda who has wandered into the shot, clumsy and oblivious to it all.

I love this photograph because it does all the things self-portraiture is so good at doing. It’s the camera at its most private and the photograph at its most telling.

Everyone has a photo like this. Don’t they? A piece of art that in retrospect sums it all up.
I started taking pictures as a child. My mother once told me that once you begin seeing in frames, it’s impossible to stop. 

In college I became fascinated with the qualities of large format negatives, and light on film. I became quite fetishistic about it, nearly crying when Kodak discontinued my beloved tungsten balance film. My work therefore played into this. Shooting at night, interiors lit up by appliances, Americana at dusk. Empty beds lit only by the television screen. All printed large... what can I say. It was aughts. Crewdson was everywhere.

At this point I am really interested in the installation of the image. I want to move beyond the frame. IT’S TIME TO BREAK THE TYRANY OF THE RECTANGLE!

 © Emily Keegin

Check out more of her work here: http://www.emilykeegin.com/

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