Looking back is never easy. What do we choose to memorialize and what do we choose to forget? Is memory ever a true representation of an event or rather an interpretation we impose on the past based on our wishes, disappointments, hopes and regrets?
For years I've been actively photographing the people and environments around me as a way to make better sense of my connection to both them and to our anarchic world. As time passes and physical changes are recorded, I also attempt - in equal measure - to draw on my own childhood and memories as a catalyst with which to imprint a point of view. Although I will look toward the formal elements of portraiture and still life painting as initial inspiration, I am also attracted to exploring subtleties that lie beneath the surface. Contradictions are everywhere: the innocent glance of a child, body language, or the fractured quality of light coming in through a kitchen window may convey a deeper psychology and narrative. But rather than draw conclusions or be overly didactic, I try and work intuitively and with a collaborative mindset, focusing on what's unique about each individual, which encourages the viewer to draw on his or her own emotions and experiences to connect with the subject of the photograph.
Using a large-format analog camera demands a wonderful connectedness that slows things down, enabling me to create moments of openness and vulnerability on both sides of the camera. This process has also provided a way of channeling many sorted feelings associated with difficult life events into the photographs. And since my approach is similar regardless of what I'm shooting, I feel the work can be threaded together and viewed like pages of a book or the frames of a film.
As a woman at a particular juncture in time, I hope to convey my perspective about the exploration of identity, memory and home.
- Ilisa Katz Rissman