Interview with Lydia Goldblatt, Juror’s Pick, 2011 Daylight/CDS Photo Awards Work-in-Process Prize

Interview with Lydia Goldblatt
Juror’s Pick (Darren Ching), Daylight/CDS Photo Awards Work-in-Process Prize

 

“Lydia Goldblatt’s photographs of her father are a refreshing and eloquent shift from the straightforward document of family. These are visual gems—encapsulated memories of an intimate relationship between father and daughter. The somber light not only serves as a distinct artistic voice but somehow imbues these highly personal observations with an enigmatic aura with which the viewer can empathize but not wholly gain access.”­Darren Ching

Could you describe the roles that religion and faith may have had in your photographs for this project and across your wider body of work?

Religion and faith do not have a particular role in this series. Fundamentally, my work is inspired by the urge to understand something of the human experience, and I turn repeatedly to themes of identity and belonging in my different projects. As such, some work, in particular the series And The Word Was God, has focused on religion and its rituals as a primary expression of our enduring desire to create frameworks of meaning and belonging.

My current work, All Flesh Is, is both about a very personal experience between myself and my parents, focusing on my father’s mortality, and equally about the desire to grasp and to render something of the essential narrative, the larger context that is inevitably embedded in any personal experience of mortality. As with much of my work, I try to give lyric expression to both the internal and external worlds in which we concurrently exist, and which shape our experience of life.

In the small selection of images for the Work-in-Process [Prize] entry, there are a number of repeated elements: water, reflections, and a strong use of blues and yellows. Are these deliberate techniques, and if so, are you aware of them while you are making the photographs, or when editing the work?

To some extent, the color palette in these images is informed by the space in which I am working, in this case my parents’ home, so my mother is partly responsible for the predominance of yellows and blues! That said, in making this work I was drawing on the threads of connection that exist between personal experience and the wider world in which we are immersed. Elements such as water, the warm light of a domestic interior, and other motifs that suggest transience or are related to memory and lived experience have been a very strong, conscious feature in my process of developing the body of work.

Many of your subjects in your body of work are women. Is photographing women and men the same experience for you?

The act of photographing a person is never the same experience. I would consider it more as an unfixed, fluid exchange of particularities and nuances between two people, in which this space for exchange is the only enduring constant. In fact, as my current project progressed, I was especially interested to realize that my different relationship with each parent was often echoed in the ways I chose to photograph them. However, as a woman, I am certainly drawn to photographing other women; I need to be able to relate to the people I photograph, and there can be a level of understanding in this exchange that is satisfying, though it is by no means limited to women. On the other side of that, there is also something about curiosity, or the impulse to breach a lack of understanding, that is integral to my photographing, be that with men or with women.

Read more about Lydia Goldblatt’s work

CDS undergraduate student Cameron Mazza conducted this interview as part of the “Multimedia Documentary” class in the fall of 2011.

 

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