In horror stories or in fairy tales, the fascination with the morbid is also, at least for me, a way to prepare for the unthinkable... That's why it's very important for me to show the artificiality of it all, because the real horrors of the world are unmatchable, and they're too profound. It's much easier to absorb "" to be entertained by it, but also to let it affect you psychologically "" if it's done in a fake, humorous, artificial way.
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We're all products of what we want to project to the world. Even people who don't spend any time, or think they don't, on preparing themselves for the world out there - I think that ultimately they have for their whole lives groomed themselves to be a certain way, to present a face to the world.
I like making images that from a distance seem kind of seductive, colorful, luscious and engaging, and then you realize what you're looking at is something totally opposite. It seems boring to me to pursue the typical idea of beauty, because that is the easiest and the most obvious way to see the world. It's more challenging to look at the other side.
So many things suddenly made sense for the clowns, for the whole idea. I'd been going through a struggle, particularly after 9/11; I couldn't figure out what I wanted to say. I still wanted the work to be the same kind of mixture "" intense, with a nasty side or an ugly side, but also with a real pathos about the characters "" and clowns have an underlying sense of sadness while they're trying to cheer people up. Clowns are sad, but they're also psychotically, hysterically happy.
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Early in my career, a critic said that I needed to "explain" the irony in my work, suggesting that I needed to add text next to the images to help people understand what I was trying to say. At first I was dismayed that I wasn't making work with a clear enough message. That's when I realized that that was the exact opposite of what I wanted to do - that I wasn't responsible for a misinterpretation of my work, that there should be some ambiguity to it. They either got it, or they didn't.
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People think because it's photography it's not worth as much, and because it's a woman artist, you're still not getting as much - there's still definitely that happening. I'm still really competitive when it comes to, I guess, the male painters and male artists. I still think that's really unfair.
I am always surprised at all the things people read into my photos, but it also amuse me. That may be because I have nothing specific in mind when I'm working. My intentions are neither feminist nor political. I try to put double or multiple meanings into my photos, which might give rise to a greater variety of interpretations...