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FFOTO's Five Quarantine Questions for Sanaz Mazinani, John Latour, and Liz Ikiriko

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"Women are Powerful and Dangerous", a quote by Audre Lorde over Liz Ikiriko's desk

"WOMEN are POWERFUL and DANGEROUS", a quote by Audre Lorde over Liz Ikiriko's desk

FF/QQ 7 connects with San Francisco-based Sanaz Mazinani and Montreal-based John Latour, whose art practices reference the elements of photography yet diverge in unexpected ways. But first up is Liz Ikiriko, a talented artist, independent curator, and accomplished photo editor working in Toronto. 

- Craig D'Arville

 

 

LIZ IKIRIKO, artist/independent curator/photo editor (@lizikiriko)

Liz Ikiriko's #WFH set-up
Liz Ikiriko's #WFH set-up

Craig D'Arville: What are you working on right now? 

Liz Ikiriko: Currently, I’m teaching a fourth year photography thesis class at Sheridan; I co-teach a continuing education photography course at Ryerson and I’m the co-director, alongside Attiya Khan, on an upcoming interactive documentary project titled Weathering, that's focused on the effects of systemic racism within maternal and obstetric healthcare in Canada. 

And as of 3 weeks ago, looks like, with alllllll that time on my hands, I’m also a homeschool tutor/teacher for my 2 kids as well..! Joking aside - big props to all Toronto District School Board teachers as they attempt to create online learning environments for our kiddos in this wild time.
 

CD: How is physical distancing affecting your art practice?

LI: Physical distancing has been challenging with teaching as I am unable to be as responsive to my students as I am when we’re in regular in-class communication. I think it’s difficult for them to have to send emails explaining their personal issues or challenges right now as opposed to being in a class where they can freely discuss what they’re working on or what problems they’ve been having with their projects. The swift shift to online teaching has been fairly smooth but it will never fully replicate the experience of being in a room with a group of peers and/or students as you respond to each other’s work.

As far as work flow, I am trying to (somewhat) keep my productive/working hours contained to a 9am-5pm schedule. When working from home it’s so easy to continually check your emails and/or dive down research wormholes for future projects but having my two kids at home means I need to prioritize off-screen time with them as well. 


CD: What are you doing to stay engaged with your community during this strange time?

LI: Maybe it’s due to the fact that I’m whole heartedly a Gen X’er, as I’ve been really enjoying talking on the phone as opposed to Zoom or any other video meetups. I’m happiest when I’m in personal relation with others. I find large group community engagements difficult to navigate at the best of times so if anything, this moment has provided opportunities to check-in with individual folks more often.

This moment has also allowed me and my family to be more considered in our purchases which means we’re thinking through what we need and how we can access those items by supporting local small businesses. Shout out to: The Common for delivering coffee, Cici’s Pizza in Parkdale and Type Books for home deliveries. 


CD: We're all spending a lot of time on social media right now. Whose work is getting your attention right now?

LI: Here's a list of four, but there are many others I could add.

- Zina Saro-Wiwa (@zswstudio)
Fellow Nigerian and incredible artist Zina Saro-Wiwa has always been great to follow on IG for many reasons. Her recent Quarantine game - asking folks to share screenshot grids of their saved/archived pages on Instagram has been fun and fascinating to see what images other artists collect.

- Sarah May Taylor (@sarahmaytaylor)
Sarah May Taylor is a recent OCADU grad from sculpture and installation. Her graduating exhibition was my last social outing before isolation kicked in and, it was well worth it. Her work is stunningly tender, tactile and strong. I’m excited to see what the future holds for her.

- Karl Ohiri (@karlohiri)
Another fellow Nigerian by way of the UK has been calling my attention lately. Though we’ve not met, I’m heartened to see another artist that’s also a researcher/curator. Both his personal work and his project #lagosstudioarchives are equally piquing my interest.

- TO Photo Laureate - (@tophotolaureate)
Trinadadian Toronto-based Michele Pearson Clarke is only the second photographer to hold the title of Toronto’s Photo Laureate. Her personal work explores Black queer grief, while her work as a leader (as an instructor and community connector) provides acute and compassionate attention to numerous students, artists and photographers in Toronto. She has made this Instagram platform as a site of support and union for so many as she shares the wide-ranging work of local lens-based artists along with her insightful views of the city.

CD: Any advice you’d like to share to help others coping with working from home, or in isolation?

LI: I do not feel like someone that could provide advice in this unprecedented time but I can share what’s been working for me. Moving slow, being honest and communicating where I’m at mentally and emotionally with my friends and colleagues has helped provide the space and pace to be as productive as I can be and to support my students and community in the ways that I am capable of.

I’ve prioritized my physical and mental health more in isolation than I ever have. I don’t have a strict routine but daily, I try to factor in movement (Ryan Heffington’s IG Live dance classes, CityDanceCorps IG Live classes or just stretching on my back deck), meditation (w/Tara Brach or guided sessions from the Liberate App) and making things with my hands (baking, drawing with my daughter, puzzles, sewing masks, maybe cyanotype prints in the near future).

At the end of every day I loosely plan out the following day so I don’t flounder in indecision when I wake up. This has helped keep me focused and able to ride the waves of collective grief and anxiety as well as the waves of collective love and care, as they come. All of this followed with a happy hour litre-sized glass of wine or a pint-sized Negroni has really taken the edge off of these dystopian days of isolation.

Visit Liz Ikiriko's website

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SANAZ MAZINANI, artist/educator (@sanazmazinani

artwork "Fold (1)", by Sanaz MazinaniFold (1), 2018, by Sanaz Mazinani

Craig D'Arville: Tell us a bit about "Fold (1)".

Sanaz Mazinani: Fold (1) is a one of the key works from a recent project titled Light Times. The project consists of photographs from a variety of media, sound, scent and sculptures that all explore the technical history of the photographic medium itself.

In an effort to analyze visual language, perception, and the contemporary consumption of images, I made a series of works all based on a set of abstract photographs. The camera-less light exposures reappear across different media - unmade, reconstituted and recontextualized. I was particularly interesting in working on this project as investigation of the discipline's material capacity to register and document, especially at a time when the recorded information is aestheticised and such a major part of our daily consumption of information.


Since my source material was intentionally pre-image, I was excited to simply invite viewers to focus manipulations, that mimic the strategies of contemporary media circulation: redaction, decontextualisation, and repetition. All processes with roots in photography. My end goal was to create a series of works that considered a poetic reflection on loss, time, event, and memory, core to the conceptual dimensions of photography.

CD: How is physical distancing affecting your work flow?

SM: As an artist my environment is my inspiration. So I must admit that I have had to adjust my expectations a great deal. What I do find fascinating is how the spread of COVID-19 has unveiled so many of the systems within which we live. From our dependence on international travel and the wide network of its reach, to the strength and organization of certain governments over others, to our ability to accept social change in such a short timeframe. This information is intriguing to me and certainly will inform my research and practice in the long run.

CD: What are you doing to stay engaged with your community during this strange time?

SM: Definitely more phone/video conversations. I have been reaching out to friends here, in the US, and in Iran, and surprisingly feeling an unlikely gratitude for the technologies that are allowing us to connect and feel the camaraderie on a global scale.

CD: We're all spending a lot of time on social media right now. Whose work is getting your attention right now?

SM: In fact I have not been spending much time online, especially due to the fact that my 3-year-old is home with me now, so I essentially cannot use any technology in front of him, or he is right there watching my screen along with me. So for pleasure I have been spending a lot of time with my photography books. I have also been designing rocket ships, building solar systems, and assembling trains out of lego pieces with my little guy.

When I do get on IG, for those brief moments, I love to see what is up on:
@studiozimoun@jerrygogosian, @paridust, and @historicalpix

CD: Any advice you’d like to share to help others coping with working from home, or in isolation?

SM: Personally, I have been looking for opportunities to help others. I find that any act, however small in helping the world tackle COVID-19 helps me stay centred. I have been searching for and finding useful resources, from emergency bursaries to mental health support geared directly towards artists to share amongst friends to cope with COVID-19.

I will also be donating 10% of my art sales during the upcoming months to CanadaHelps COVID-19 Healthcare & Hospital Fund

And finally, I am doing everything that I can think of to prevent the cycle of transmission, including Staying Home ALL the time!

Shop FFOTO: Sanaz Mazinani

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JOHN LATOUR, artist (@johnlatourart)

Middle-aged man in suit and tie seated with hands together by John Latour

Craig D'Arville: Tell us a bit about your work with found photographs.

John Latour: I’ve been working with found photographs as source material in my practice since 2007. At that time, I wanted to bring in a new element to my art that was distinct but also complementary to my sculpture and page art practices. In general, I’m attracted to vintage found objects that evoke a sense of history, although their individual histories have been lost. The photographs are a good case in point. I work with old snapshots from the early 20th century and tintype portraits from the late 19th century. Neither the subjects of the photographs nor the photographers are known, but each image suggests a story. By applying flecks of white paint to these figures, they become obscured in a way that suggests (to me) the eventual disappearance of all subjects over time.

 CD: How is physical distancing affecting your work flow?

JL: Most of the snapshots I’ve used come from flea markets or second-hand stores, and the tintypes have all come from antique stores in an around the Montreal area. It’s now impossible to visit such places in person because of physical distancing, so I’ve turned to the Internet and eBay. For someone who is used to squatting in the corner of a store while pouring over hundreds of small photographs at a time – the online experience is a much less intimate, less magical process. This is a minor inconvenience, all things considered.

CD: What are you doing to stay engaged with your community during this strange time?

JL: I only recently created an Instagram account (@johnlatourart) which turns out to be a great way to stay connected with different arts communities (who knew?).

CD: We're all spending a lot of time on social media right now. Whose work is getting your attention right now?

JL: I think social media brings out the photo-diarist in people, which is great; but I really do keep an eye out for artists who make use of these platforms on a daily basis as an integral part of their art practice. For instance, Montreal boasts a number of artists who have a walking art practice such as Philippe Guillaume (@philippeguillaumeartist) and Françoise Belu (@francoisebelu). I’d also highly recommend checking out artist / curator Pohanna Pyne Feinberg’s Walking With project that documents the role of walking in the practices of 12 women artists in the Montreal area including Sylvie Cotton (@sylvie.cottonn), Karen Elaine Spencer (@karenelainespencer), Victoria Stanton (@victoriastantondoingnothing), and Kathleen Vaughan (@kathleen.sheila.vaughan).

CD: Any advice you’d like to share to help others coping with working from home, or in isolation?

JL: Having an art practice can be an isolating experience for many artists. It’s important (now more than ever) to stay connected with family, friends and colleagues in our communities. Keep well and in touch. And, don’t sprain your ankle (trust me on this ;)

John Latour's #WFH selfie

John Latour's #WFH selfie

Shop FFOTO: John Latour

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