KRISTEN BARTLEY (Brooklyn NY, USA)
I am a photo-based artist, raised in Texas and currently living in Brooklyn, NY. I am mostly self-taught, having learned much of what I know about photography through my father, grandfather and photography books. I regularly exhibit work in New York City and am currently working on publishing an artist book from my long-term project “Flower Mound.”
My project “Flower Mound,” borrows its title from the suburban Texas town I grew up in. At the end of 2013, I started traveling back to Texas as my father was succumbing to a lengthy battle with cancer. Over the next few years I also lost my mother and ended a relationship with my long-time partner. Everything I considered solid within my life began to rapidly crumble before my eyes, including my self-identity. I turned to my camera during this time as an attempt to regain control over my life and to save fragmented pieces of what I was about to lose forever. The images from this project capture fleeting moments of intimacy, joy and grief. Woven together they serve as a lyrical reflection on love, loss, metamorphosis and the ephemeral nature of life.
Practice Statement: How does photographing on film (or using your material photographic process of predilection) inform your artistic practice?
My work is deeply rooted in memory and nostalgia. Film allows me to achieve a particular aesthetic quality reminiscent of old family photographs I was captivated by in my childhood. Using film and older analog cameras is also a very meditative process. I am forced to slow down, pay attention and be fully immerse myself within the present moment. By not being able to see the images I have made for days or maybe even months later, I also release any attachment to each image after pressing the shutter. This allows me to work in a freer way rather than getting caught up with the image I have just taken when instead I should be reacting to other things unfolding around me in the that moment. In addition, I believe the length of time between taking a photograph on film and then developing it and eventually looking at it helps me to see the image with fresh eyes and gives me a better understanding of what moved me to take the image in the first place.