Talent _ Rebecca Reeve
Photographer based in New York
NOU: When you decide to take a picture of something, do you consciously seek out the subject, or does it come to you in a casual way?
RR: It really depends on the project – sometimes my pictures are an immediate response to a situation and I follow my instinct; other times I think about a concept for a while. Marjory’s World was inspired by Patience: After Sebald, which discusses Sebald’s book The Rings of Saturn – so I had already developed framework within which to work. I also went to the Everglades National Park in Florida and explored the landscape for a month and took pictures, so in this sense I lived in the moment and made decisions on which photographs to take as I discovered and experienced the environment. At this point, all of the natural elements come into play; you never know when pictures are going to reveal themselves until you’re in front of a stretch of land and something moves you.
NOU: What do you see behind your pictures? And what do you think we see?
RR: The experience of viewing art is so subjective; if one connects with the image in any way, be it positive or negative, then it is a success! Central to my work has been the depiction of my immediate experience. Marjory’s World, for instance, was about the beauty of being in and experiencing that landscape. The project that I have been working on in Cuba is about my journey and the people who’ve crossed my path, so in a different sense this, too, touches upon this idea of immediate connection. Taking a portrait is an intense exchange, and I hope that I’m able to convey the immediacy and power of that moment to the viewer in some way.
NOU: If you have to choose an icon to relate to your work, who would it be?
RR: The list is endless, but in terms of the Marjory’s World series and using the curtain as a composition tool, the photograph by Robert Frank ‘Butte, Montana, 1956’ would be an interesting place to start. The photograph was from Frank’s iconic book The Americans, which depicted the lunatic sublime of America. It was a direct response to another key figure in photography, Walker Evans, and his book American Photographs. They say that Frank carried picture from Evan’s book View of Easton Pennsylvania 1936 in his pocket when he was making this series.
NOU: In simple words, what is the story behind the Marjory’s World project?
RR: Marjory’s World is a series of images that I made during my residency in the Everglades. It draws inspiration from the 18th Century Dutch custom of covering up mirrors, portraits, and landscape paintings at funerals to ease the passing into the afterlife. I was intrigued by this notion of the spirit being tempted to stay in this world if it saw such imagery. With this concept in mind I used curtains as a contextual frame for the landscape series in the Everglades; the curtains were open and revealed the landscape as opposed to hiding it. My intention was for the viewer to see the landscape in a different way, the curtains gave the scenes an unexpected immediacy.
The title Marjory’s World is a direct reference to Marjory Stoneman Douglas, a staunch defender of the Everglades, and a nod to the novel Sophie’s World, which touches upon fundamental issues of being.