Brooklyn NY, USA




Marisa Chafetz is a New York based artist who works primarily in photography. Her work explores the blurred lines between fictional tableaus and traditional documentary photography. She often deals with topics such as family life, American suburbia, and coming of age. In 2017 she received a grant from the Michael P. Smith fund for Documentary Photography, as well as a Georges Lurcy Grant.

Artist Statement:

I had an idyllic upbringing; I grew up in a commune of sorts, with three moms and three dads, and seven brothers and sisters. Our story is serendipitous, unlikely, and beautiful. I relive my memories like reading a novel, as if our past might still be taking place in the present in some alternate universe. In recent years, our family has fallen apart in monumental ways. We mourned losses one after another, as if the tragic momentum was unstoppable. I grew up knowing that falling backwards would mean two dozen hands, outstretched to catch me, and suddenly falling means descending into cold, empty air.

This series, ‘We are Ugly but We Have the Music’ is my attempt to understand what is left. My childhood meant knowing, it meant being sure. Now, right in the thick of it, I’m still staring out at what feels like a sea of uncertainty and change. If my childhood was easy to know, a series of stories so magnificent, they sound like fiction- how can I understand my family’s present: often full of heartache, loneliness, and banality? What is the reality of what we are now, after our fall from grace?

Practice Statement: How does photographing on film (or using your material photographic process of predilection) inform your artistic practice?

Photographing on film allows me meditation and honesty while making my work. While shooting on film, I cannot judge my own work, and my subjects cannot judge themselves, and therefore we all produce more truthful, instinct-driven art. I benefit most from this process: losing myself in a shoot, allowing myself to follow what I am drawn to, and then after some time away from making the work, spending time in the studio scanning the negatives and analyzing what I’ve produced. Scanning my own negatives is also important to my process, as it allows me to spend more time with each image, and I feel more connected to and more in control of the work. I can’t imagine my practice without shooting on film.
IG @marischafetz