!! OMG, Art: Paul Mpagi Sepuya chats with writer Justin Torres !!

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, one our favourite photo-based artists, sits down with author Justin Torres for a interview in the LA Times that goes deep on process, presentation, cruising and queer community.

Read some excerpts and see the accompanying NSFW images after the jump!

JT: Why is it important to both invite the viewer to feel like they’re being objectified — or like they’re the subject — and also exclude, or reinforce that exclusion somehow?

PS: Any kind of invitation, so to speak, is secondary and not a part of what matters. When I started making the images with the mirrors, I didn’t set it up as a way to invite the viewer in — that’s never been a part of it. It was about being able to work with the kind of picture where the figure-ground relationship got kind of mixed up, but in relation to the unfolding of time, so that the recurring background of the images would be this sort of shifting and slowly changing space of the studio.

PS: There’s all the stuff in the space.

JT: What’s that about? Where does that come from? Is it because you’re really interested in the emergence of photography itself?

PS: When I was at UCLA, I was interested in early modernist photography, the experimentation in the 1920s and ’30s, post-pictorialists like Florence Henri and also that same era of homoerotic photography. But part of it was thinking about the structure of photography — and this is what the mirrors allowed me to do — the centering of that device, the apparatus, and calling attention to the subject and the space and the operator of it in relation to point perspective — these are all things that I wanted to tie together through a different kind of origin point of Black subjectivity, homoerotic desire and queer social formations.

JT: The other thing I love about your work is how queer it is. There are images where you have only a glimpse of some body or bodies — the subjects are obscured. You might see just a bit of leg, and you imagine so much about what else is there, what else is going on. You want to see the face, you want to see the body parts that aren’t visible. It made me think of going to sex clubs and how what is so sexy are the glimpses, oftentimes not having access to the full subject. And in the pictures, the way in which they’ve been fragmented, there’s something so erotic and sexually charged about that. How do you think about the relationship between sexuality, eroticism and the kind of high, fine art that you make?


PS: I was talking to a friend about the difference between cruising and a sauna or a spa or a sex club. With cruising, it’s just like a spider lying in wait for prey; it’s this sort of prolonged thing. Cruising I find interesting, conceptually, and I have friends who have these really meaningful experiences, but there’s a lot of waiting, the anticipation, and then a furtive encounter, and then it’s done. But in another kind of space — in the sex club or in the spa or in the orgy space — there’s kind of a circulation. There’s conversation, moving in and out; it’s much more of a social gathering. That’s the kind of structure I’m interested in in photographs — the creation of a space, a social space.

(via the LA Times)

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1 Comment on "OMG, Art: Paul Mpagi Sepuya chats with writer Justin Torres"

  1. Meh, mediocre, not interesting at all

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