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FFOTO's Five Quarantine Questions for Sophie Hackett, Deanna Pizzitelli, and Adad Hannah

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Making lumen prints, by Deanna PizzitelliDeanna Pizzitelli making lumen prints

This is it! The final FF/QQ post (for now). Three dozen artists and culture workers contributed their voices to this series, telling us what's keeping them engaged with their social and artistic communities, and sharing links to online and offline resources that are helping them to make the best of these strange circumstances we're all experiencing. In this post we hear from photography curator Sophie Hackett, and artists Deanna Pizzitelli and Adad Hannah. Enjoy and share!

- Craig D'Arville

 

 

Sophie Hackett: Curator, Photography, Art Gallery of Ontario (@hackettse)

Sophie Hackett's #WFH selfieSophie Hackett's #WFH selfie

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

Sophie Hackett: A couple of writing projects, and finding ways to engage AGO visitors online, with our photography exhibitions and collections 

CD: How is physical distancing affecting your work flow?

SH: I can do a lot of my work from home. But I miss interacting with my colleagues in person, that ability to just walk down the hall to talk through an idea. And, we opened the exhibition Diane Arbus: Photographs, 1956–1971 a couple of weeks before the AGO closed. So, I would normally be spending a lot of time in the show, talking to visitors, supporters, and students. I miss that very much. 

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

SH: I'm listening to a lot of talks with artists, curatorial colleagues and museum directors. We're all trying to figure out what the effects of the pandemic will mean for museums and the arts more broadly, so they add up to a collective kind of problem-solving, alongside a reminder of what's core to the work we do. Of course, there are also all the Zoom calls!

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

SH: I'm enjoying a collaborative Instagram project with a few photo curator colleagues where we each take turns posting a photograph, sparked by the one posted immediately before, an extended visual conversation: @the.ongoing.moment 

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

SH: Eat some nice food; have some nice drinks. 

Learn more about the AGO's collection of photography

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Deanna Pizzitelli, Artist (@deanna.pizzitelli)

Jakub, Skin, I, 2016, by Deanna PizzitelliJakub, Skin, I, 2016

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

Deanna Pizzitelli: 
I was experimenting with mark-making in the darkroom here. In the printing process, I cut out little shapes on a black sheet of paper. I discarded the shapes, and used a nail file to soften the edges on the sheet that had been cut into, giving them more character. After exposing the negative to the photo paper, I exposed the photo paper to blank enlarger light with this sheet over top. Naturally only the areas that had been cut away were exposed, leaving these little shapes on top of my image.

But this image was ultimately part of a larger series called “The Story of You”. A couple years back, I participated in a residency at Listhús Artspace in Iceland. This residency was part of a local festival known as Skammdegi, or “dark days”. The term refers to a time of winter when the sun never rises above the mountains and shines, at the darkest point, for under four hours each day. So this work explores that experience of darkness.

This is actually an image of my partner and funnily enough, I made something similar just the other day: 

"Home, April 3", 2020, by Deanna Pizzitelli

Home, April 3, 2020 (coming soon to FFOTO)

CD: How is physical distancing affecting your art practice?

DP: Well, I think some effects are yet to be seen, but naturally some other aspects of my work are changing – I’m no longer connecting with models (except my partner, whom I live with), or travelling.  

I’ve channelled this energy into grant-writing, mock-ups and online/in-print research. I’m also photographing within my own space more. An arts practice can be alive in many ways, so I’m trying to focus on that.

Making lumen prints, 2020

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

DP: I’m reaching out to others more via social media, Skype, e-mail, etc. In my art practice, making applications is, in my opinion, another great way to stay engaged. It’s something I’ve been devoted to in my practice for a long time. When you apply for a grant, or a contest, or a show, you’re effectively sharing your work with others in your field – your industry’s professionals, your contemporaries. It’s a type of engagement that has the benefit of uplifting your practice whether or not you get an affirmative response. Because in that process, you learn more about your own work, you share it with others, and you research the work of other artists that have previously engaged with that opportunity.

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

DP: Yeah, you know, I think I’ve just been cruising Instagram and Facebook a lot more in general. So there’s a ton of feeds I’ve been enjoying – some individual (@tophotolaureate; @whitneylewissmith), some institutional (@fotofilmic@rencontresarles@yogurt.magazine@stephenbulgergallery).  

But I’ve also been connecting with fellow artists more personally – sharing work, catching up. My partner, Jakub Jančo, is an artist, and we live together. We’ve always had a role in each other’s practice, so it makes sense that we’re cooperating even more now. Some artists I’ve been connecting with personally …

Jakub Jančo (www.jakubjanco.com)
Dominika Jackuliakova (www.jackuliakova.com)
Serge J-F. Levy (www.sergelevy.com)
Laurel Conradson (www.laurelconradson.com [not specifically photo-based, but an inspiration for me])

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

DP: I think the experience is so individual, you know? I suppose I would say that it’s a great time to read those shelved books, write those unfinished grants or dust off an at-home fitness routine (full disclosure, I’m doing this last one sporadically, but the dream is there). I also think that the stress of the current situation will negate productivity for some, and that’s okay too. I have days where I get a lot done, and days where I play the ultimate couch potato. That feels natural to me.

I also call my mom almost everyday, and I think that has given me an enhanced sense of connection. It’s one strategy.

Working from home comes with it’s own challenges. I think we all just have to do our best to adopt and to support each other – but at the same time engaging what is still a reasonable workload (some things, after all, will be more difficult or lengthy in a work-from-home setting). So this will look different depending on the kind of work you do. I teach, and so I’m trying to be present with my job and students. I’m also pinging my colleagues every so often just to kind of say hey and keep that connection.

Deanna Pizzitelli's home studio set-upDeanna Pizzitelli's home studio set-up

Shop FFOTO: Deanna Pizzitelli

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Adad Hannah, Artist (@adadhannah)

Old Woman Looking Out Window, 2011, from "The Russians", by Adad HannahOld Woman Looking Out Window, 2011, from "The Russians"

Craig D'Arville: Tell us about this photograph, "Hermitage Gallery".

Adad Hannah: The Russians was produced as a response to two other artists' projects, Robert Frank's The Americans, and Sergeii Prokudin-Gorskii's amazing full colour images taken in the very early 20th century before colour photography was widely available. I wandered around Saint-Petersburg and the surrounding countryside making portraits of people I came across. More info and text can be found at https://adadhannah.com/2011-the-russians-photographs

CD: How is physical distancing affecting your work flow?

AH: I have two modes of work, one where I make community-based projects and one where I work alone in the studio. This physical distancing has meant that all my community-based projects are on hold so I decided to try something else and have been making portraits of strangers and doing short interviews. The project has taken off and I have now done almost 100 portraits so far. You can see them on my instagram @adadhannah  

View this post on Instagram

Social Distancing Video Portrait 98 (flowers and candy edition).🎥📽 -- Music composed by Brigitte Dajczer @brigamusic 🔉🎧Turn on the sound - uncropped videos always in my story -- Shea -- "I wanted to surprise my friend with a birthday gift of flowers and candy. I don’t really like this situation. I hate not seeing my friends and going close to them and hugging them. It’s kinda weird because people always wish that school didn’t happen but then when school didn’t happen people are starting to regret it. I miss doing stuff without masks and gloves. People should stay safe. If you don’t need to go out don’t go." -- More to come -- These videos are all shot from at least 5m away with a long lens. These unedited videos try to record in real-time this strange period we are all in together.

A post shared by Adad Hannah (@adadhannah) on

 Here is some text from when I started making the Covid-19 portraits on March 14th:

On March 14th I got frustrated with feeling paralyzed - sitting at home endlessly reading the news - and decided to do the only thing I'm qualified to do and make some art. I put a long lens on my camera and headed out by foot. As I walked towards the shopping centre I asked people from a distance if I could take their pictures from far away. Many said no, but some said yes. I wanted to see if I could capture this strange tense in-between moment we are currently in. Things are changing fast yet we're also sort of stuck in time not knowing what comes next. I’ll keep doing this as long as it makes sense - I’m hoping this project doesn’t last too long.

(Visit @galeriepfoac to view an archive of Adad Hannah's Instagram takeover that took place from May 4-10. It includes footage documenting how Hannah makes his Covid-19 portraits, and so much more - it is a phenomenal Instagram takeover!)

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

AH: I can only tell you what works for me, which is to keep reaching out to friends and family and know that we will get through this thing one way or another. Stay safe!

Adad Hannah's #WFH selfieAdad Hannah's #WFH selfie

Shop FFOTO: Adad Hannah

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