Minor Revelations by Alyssa Fujita Karoui
US based Japanese, Tunisian photographic artist, and current Director of Programs at LensCulture, Alyssa Fujita Karoui talks about her work Minor Revelations, a photographic celebration of banal ephemera. Seemingly insignificant moments in sociology and urbanism that when highlighted through the medium of photography offer a unique discursive on our own being.
Tell us more about yourself and your practice.
My name is Alyssa and I'm a photographer living in San Francisco, CA. I am currently the director of programs at LensCulture, a leading online platform for contemporary photography and I dedicate my free time to developing my own photographic practice. My photographic journey started about 5 years ago. I had just moved to the US from Paris, France and had a hard time adjusting to my new environment. I picked up a camera and started taking long walks around my new neighbourhood to feel more grounded and at peace. What started off out of desperation grew into a passion that lead me to quit my consulting job, go to art school and get a bachelor's degree in Photography. I never looked back!
What was your creative process for this series or for your work in general?
My work follows a very simple creative process: trusting that the photographs will lead me towards the work my mind (unconsciously) wants to make.
I photograph during my walks without a fixed goal in mind. I trust my intuition and believe that whatever state of mind I am in—whether it's affected by the book I am reading, the ideas or issues I am grappling with, or quotes that stayed with me—will be reflected in the objects and moments I am attracted to. Once I have a good number of images, I make tiny prints, spread them on the wall and sit with them for a long time (sometimes months). The images move around organically, forming diptychs and triptychs; sometimes I remove them from the wall or put them back again. Ultimately, they morph into a tightly edited sequence that feels right visually and conceptually.
What work inspires or has inspired you?
I think the one artist that really influenced me and sparked my interest in photography is Henry Wessel. Aside from his beautiful and perfect prints of the mundane, I love how he describes the quality of the light in his photographs ("The light has such physical presence, it looks as though you could lean against it") and I definitely follow his intuitive creative process. His photographs are a celebration of light and the act of looking. I am also inspired by many other photographers that make work about the everyday, the overlooked and the ephemeral such as Rinko Kawauchi, Masao Yamamoto, Luigi Ghirri and Jason Fulford.
Are there any artistic movements you enjoy in particular and why?
These are not all related to photography, but I like the New Topographics movement from the '70s in the United States, the Japanese art of flower arranging (Ikebana), and magical realism in literature...I think somehow they are all about deep observation, seeing and celebrating the potential of what's in front of you without any artifice.
Do you have any opinions or ideals underlying your art?
We live in such a fast-paced world ruled by consumerism, instant gratification and productivism that we forget to slow down, look around and be present. We are in the constant pursuit of the next shiny thing, the next career milestone, while being totally hooked on our phones... I like to think about my work as small meditations that invite people to unplug, contemplate and remember to enjoy the little things in life. Personally, it also has to make me a better person.
The concept of “shared perceptual existence” is one akin to photography. Can you tell us more about your ideas around this concept? What are your views on the subjectivity and objectivity of photography?
I think that regardless of the genre of photography, a picture is always subjective, taken from the point of view of the artist with their own ideas, opinions and biases. However, I believe that there is a continuity between a specific experience at the individual level and something that is earthly whole. For instance, if we picture warm sunlight hitting beautifully on a plant, we might tell a different story or a narrative, but we would all feel the same warmth and the instant relaxing of our muscles. I think that looking into this shared perceptual existence makes us connect to larger moments of clarity and grace.
Any words for aspiring artists?
I am way too early in my photographic journey to give advice to aspiring artists...But here are things I learned the hard way...
When in doubt, always remember the reason why you started photographing
It takes time (a lot of time) to make something good
Most of the time, you'll feel like an outsider. That's ok, apparently everyone (secretly) feels the same.
Look for constructive feedback, take what sits right with you and kindly ignore the rest
Pursue the joy of photographing, not the fame or success that might or might never come out of it.
Enjoy and celebrate the process because that's what you're ultimately left with!
Is there anything you’re currently working on?
I am currently working on making a book of the "Minor Revelations" series, hopefully to be published sometime this year. This is very exciting for me, because the photo book is my favorite way of looking at photographs. It is also a way to share it with the wider public.
I am also in the early stages of creating a new set of images, which is usually a time full of both excitement and uncertainties. All I can do is trust the process and keep working!
Which platform is best for people wanting to keep updated with your work?
If you would like to see some of my work and stay informed on future announcements, you can follow me on Instagram (IG handle: alyssa.fujita) where I am the most active.