the photographer that reimagines baroque scenes in his garage
Are six square metres enough to shoot an entire photographic sequence on different backgrounds? According to fashion photographer Jeff Bark, they are.
Jeff Bark at the opening of Jeff Bark – Paradise Garage. Photography Andrea Buccella
This article originally appeared on i-D Italy
Already a superstar among the fashion crowds, Jeff Bark never stopped cultivating his artistic vision, part of which you can these days enjoy at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome, as part of the exhibition JEFF BARK -- Paradise Garage.
We met Bark at the show’s preview for a chat about the domestic interiors, still lifes and cabinets of curiosities that make up some of the exhibition's main subjects.
When did you first realise that you wanted to become a photographer?
When I was very young, and my ambition was to become a zoo designer. I was fascinated by the idea of creating and maintaining the illusion of a real environment. It's why I love Disney World. And I think these fascinations from my youth influenced the way my photographic style developed.
You are now an accomplished fashion photographer. Was there another key element that helped shape your aesthetic over time?
When I started shooting, my fashion photography was greatly inspired by family photo albums and the kind of stories that we're told through them. Birthdays, family holidays and so on. You also have to consider the fact that, at the time, people didn't take half the amount of photos that they do today. Everyone is a photographer now.
Is there a rule you follow while researching?
I like to experiment, I like to surprise people and I don't just fall back on being provocative. Imposing limits on yourself seems silly to me.
In the era of #MeToo, is it still right to objectify the body for commercial purposes?
I think it was the right time for a change, and this means rethinking how women are represented in our collective imagination. I have worked on pieces that have included a lot of nudity, but never in a sexual way.
Beauty and light make your work carry a kind of Baroque aesthetic. Is that on purpose?
I've always been attracted to certain recurring themes since I was a child, so I have subconsciously revisited them time and time again in my work. Often forgetting that it wasn’t the first time I'd done that.
Who is beautiful nowadays? Who is worth photographing?
Everyone is beautiful, which sounds false but it’s true nevertheless. Everything is about light and the way it falls on the subject.
Do you feel that there’s a difference between fashion photography and art photography?
I feel that fashion photography is aimed at giving you a fleeting feeling, while art photography’s intention is to create levels of meaning to make the image deep and fascinating.
What inspired your new exhibition here in Rome?
A short trip to Rome a few years ago gave me the idea of completing my own personal grand tour, just as painters of the past did for centuries. A grand tour made in my image and likeness, entirely reconstructed in my garage. I was excited to see how I could transform the same six metres of space into different environments.
Can you tell us more about your creative process?
I like the physical act of building things with my own hands. That’s why I personally work on my sets, so I can have total control over the show, while gradually adding more and more details to the image.
What are your goals for this exhibition?
I want to recreate the feeling of a history of the world, and at the same time take on all the themes that the artist uses to tell stories. I wanted to glorify the banal, to see if I could recreate a place that seemed real, but which would, at the same time, confuse the viewer in a certain way.
Are you already working on your next art project?
From 25th June to 30th July at the Michael Hoppen Gallery in London, I will be exhibiting a selection of still lifes taken from Paradise Garage. But actually my next project is one with a totally different concept, which has been in my thoughts for a while now.
Can you tell us what it will be called?
JEFF BARK – Paradise Garage will be in Rome at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, until the 28th of July, 2019. More information can be found here.
This article originally appeared on i-D IT.