Momentary Sculptures by Mauricio Alejo
Still life photographic and installation artist Mauricio Alejo talks to us about his practice. His intricately created images explore multiple dimensions within a space surrounding banal objects. The photographic aspect is more an attempt at recording these temporary, homely sculptures. The ephemeral quality of his installations means the images are the final product of a private performance made by Alejo himself. Creating new narratives out of banal objects Alejo invites the viewer into the performance of still life. It's accomplished to undertake all aspects of his image creation - the art direction and styling and capturing the creation itself using photography. Influenced by artists like Martin Creed and Tom Friedman, Alejo creates beautiful structures out of the everyday objects in his many previous apartments in New York and Mexico. His work has been featured in Vice Magazine and can be viewed in full on his website linked below.
Tell us more about your practice.
Familiar objects have their place in our surroundings and they seem to fit in a natural map of the world. What I do is to bring them to a new narrative which doesn't obey their functionality; It mostly obeys to a specific intuition I have about space, time, materiality, displacement or physical force. Most of my pieces come from thoughts that are not yet formed as an idea. The results, devoid of explicit meaning or metaphor, point in every direction. The psychological remanent created by the violence inflicted on this narrative sometimes presents itself as absurdity but this is just a byproduct of what, it really is, a primal, somewhat idiosyncratic, experience of the world.
What work inspires or has inspired you?
Oddly enough most of my influences come from non photographers. They are mostly sculptors, (or sort of ) like Martin Creed, Weiss and Fischli, Tony Feher, Tom Friedman etc... I think in most of them you can finda childlike amusement that I can easily relate to.
Are there any artistic movements you enjoy in particular and why?
I think I could safely say any art expression that leans towards the conceptual. Something that when you scratch the surface you start finding other questions and implications, some of them relating to the very media they are using.
Do you have any opinions or ideals underlying your art?
Yes, I think my work is an exploration of three different spaces: The physical space where things happen; the bi-dimensional space where those happenstances are represented and the mental space of the viewer. I'm not trying to explain the world or tell people what anything means. I just want to make them co-participants on the experience that the world can be transform and its meaning re-elaborated.
Your work is very staged. How meticulous is your art direction process? How much time would you spend on one image?
I use a 4x5 camera and artificial lighting. I like the built in limitations of working this way. The setting up of the equipment consumes most of the time in any of my photographs which could go from 3 to 6 hours. There are pictures where the installation could take longer. In any case, I don't want the technical getting in the way of the thing I'm documenting. I know it sounds like a contradiction given the time I spend setting thingsup but what I mean is that I'm not trying to do anything fancy. I don't want the viewer get fixated in things like the virtuosity of lighting or any other masterful accomplishment, rather than that I try to lit and set as natural as possible (if there's such thing in photography) and let the experience comes form the "truth" of what is being represented.
Any words for aspiring photographers?
I know a lot of people says this but they say it because is true. If you are starting, work, work and work. If you have an idea go do it. Use that energy that comes with freshly conceived ideas to get them done; you'll have plenty of time later to decide if it's working or not.