Seigar Comments on Sociology
This week we spoke to contemporary urban and art photographer Seigar about his practice and his recent series My Plastic People. Seigar's recent work plays with the concept of fetishism in the every day. His subjects are inanimate mannequins in store front windows - he attempts to draw empathy from the audience via photographically capturing the plastic models. The series is a detailed inside view of a fetishist and photographer. The intrigue of the work comes not only from the subjects in his images but from Seigar himself as the artist and photographer.
Abstract: English philologist, high school teacher, a curious, urban & travel photographer. I’m a fetishist for reflections, plastic people and other living creatures, details, saturated colours and religious icons. I feel passion for pop culture that broke in my series. My plastic people: this set belongs to my best subject matter, that is "My Plastic People". I try to give dignity and humanity to the plastic people all around the world.
PW: Tell us more about you and your artwork.
S: I’m a traveler and urban street photographer, always digging into reflections and lively colours. I want to tell tales with my camera, to capture an instant and trying to give a new frame and perspective to it. Travelling has given me the chance to work on sets based and organised on places or themes. I create connections to make my series something more than mere postcards from the town I’ve visited. The details and subjects matters come to my camera once and once again, so I became a fetishist of my plastic people displayed in shop windows, and street photography in general. Besides, the use of reflections helps me to show different levels and richer images. I’m not afraid of complexity, imperfection or extreme visions; sometimes it is good to display more and push boundaries. I want to provoke reactions, to transmit feelings or sensations. I’d say I enjoy effects. The tittles of my series are essential to me; they connect the photos with a shared mood. I’ve always admired conceptual art and that is why, I try to bring that to my work too.
PW: How did you plan for this project? What was your creative process?
S: My plastic people are alive. They portray stories and tales. My plastic people just deserve respect. I find them there, in their worlds, in these shop windows in all towns or cities, trying to get our attention. Their faces come to live in my reflections’ works. As a beauty lover, they little by little became my most ambitious project so far and my obsession. Like in a movie scene, they will shout love, happiness, sadness, melancholy, envy, destruction, subversions or force. Their pose and quietness let me enough time to get portraits and create a fantasy with them. They are the main characters. I give plastic people voice to speak louder to the world we live in. They sometimes get naked and give me an individual feeling or emotion, but they can also show me worry about social issues. They can even protest and speak out loud with a challenging attitude towards society.
PW: What work inspires or has inspired?
S: As a street photographer, I love Martin Parr’s work. I admire him deeply. I’d even say I share with him some subject matters. He is not afraid to be free. He is into colours, freedom and breaking the rules. That is why I admired him so much. I’m also interested in the documentary feature of his sets. He is part of history for me. I think I need to mention some figures that have been part of my life as pop icons, who maybe have not influenced directly into my photography, but who have been present throughout my life. In music, my icons are Madonna, Michael Jackson and Prince. In cinema, I’m into Pedro Almodóvar, Alfred Hitchcock, Robert Aldrich, Lars von Trier and Tarantino. In painting, I adore Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dalí and Andy Warhol. All these people share very personal but radical views about what art is. They all create or created a unique universe that is glued in my brain and in my heart. I’m sure if you scan me, you can find their musical and visual imagery into my soul.
PW: Are there any artistic movements you enjoy in particular and why?
S: Of course, I’m a pop fetishist. I’m another Warhol fan of his philosophy about making art accessible and integrated. In Spain, we had “La Movida” that was our response to dictatorship and a symbol of freedom and artistic expression. It’s quite an inspiring movement for me. I’m in love with the pain and expression of Frida Kahlo, her paintings and the way she wrote, almost like a child always speaking from her heart. It’s always revealing to re-read her words and look at her portraits. Salvador Dalí has always brought joy to my eyes; he was another pusher, an amazing artist. He definitely made his existence and person an expression of art. Last summers, I have been visiting his museums in Spain, and I even made a set called “The Figurative Language of Figueras, reinterpreting Dalí”, which was exhibited in the photography biennale called FotoNoviembre for the TEA Museum in Tenerife.
PW: Do you have any opinions or ideals underlying your art?
S: My ideal underlying my art is bringing beauty to the world or showing the world in a beautiful manner. I love beauty. That is with respect to form and if we talk about content, I must confess my opinions are spread into the tittles of my sets. I’m not afraid to show the world how I look at it. It’s just my point of view, but it’s there. It’s not just about what I think about, but also how I feel about. Many things happening right now make me feel anger and rage. I just can fight them changing myself and even though it may sound a “Man in the mirror” message, it’s how I feel it.
PW: Your Plastic People work could be said to reflect the modern day public and society. Tell us more about the theory you adopted behind your Plastic People project?
S: They can both show individuality or society moods. A plastic person may tell me she envies the woman outside a shop window looking at her because she just would like to live and enjoy life like her. Another plastic person could tell me she just wants to marry the plastic person next to her by her look. These are the individual feelings. However, a group of plastic people in an afternoon photo walk could tell me they are conspirators, observing people like security cameras planning world domination. It can be either the ironic point of view or the human interior side of their selves.
PW: Any words for aspiring photographic artists?
S: I would say try to get your motives, your reasons, your themes. Once, you get them, most of the way is done. Then, try to convey something with them. Get a meaning and a name for your subject matters. Work hard! I believe in being constant and making efforts. Never forget to be generous and kind. And remember, beauty is always a nice thing to show. Last but not least, start believing in yourself.
PW: Is there anything you’re currently working on?
S: My last project is a response to Ceal Floyer’s “Monochrome Till Receipt (White)” for a Summer Exhibition. I was so impressed with this conceptual piece of art, that I decided myself to give a response. I understand art as a form of communication. That is why; I planned this project, as an answer to her work. It consists of four till receipts and the four images of the products I bought (an ice-cream, a beach umbrella, a towel and flip-flops). I respect some of her rules from her masterpiece. The receipts/products are all from local shops in Tenerife where they are going to be exhibited, and it also plays with concepts like minimalism and conceptual art. However, trying to go further or give something new, I have added photography to the proposal. That is the technique I use in my works, so each of the four pieces shows a product related to the summer presented with both the receipt and the photograph. I also add a traditional frame to make it work together and also because I like the idea of a conventional wrap/case to my work.
Toys have also become part of the plastic people project.
PW: What else can you tell us about your photographic practice?
S: I’m into social event photography. I attend to parties, music festivals, drag contests, openings and closings of art exhibitions...etc. I try to become part of the atmosphere, go around people and get the mood of what is going on into my pictures, and at the same time, being truthful to my style.