Currently showing in the Raw Skin exhibition in London’s Karin Janssen Project Space, photographer Antony Crossfield’s work blurs the boundaries between bodies, constantly challenging the viewer’s eye and the distinctiveness of individual selves. We find out why this photographer wants to redefine portraiture.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF?
I began as a painter but moved to photography. I have since had two solo exhibitions – in Barcelona and New York – and several group shows, and I won the Terry O’Neill Award in 2009.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU AND YOUR WORK?
All sorts of things inspire me. Painting and cinema probably influence me the most. I began as a painter and digital technology has helped me to apply some of my painterly sensibilities to photography and much of my work explores the way the two mediums now overlap in some ways. I like using that cross-over of mediums to create new meanings.
WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF PHOTOGRAPHY – WHAT DO YOU NEED TO ACHIEVE?
I want to redefine portraiture and to rethink and revitalise the way identity and the body is portrayed. Traditional ideas of individual identity tends to portray the self as stable and knowable. I want the people in my portraits to have much more slippery, uncertain identities. I want the photographs to have a visceral impact, to affect the viewer physically as much as intellectually. Also, I think an honesty to the medium is important. Too many photographers use digital tools and then try to disavow their use. I think the way digital tools have fundamentally changed photography is one of the most interesting things about photography today. This should be acknowledged, not disguised.
WHAT SORT OF PERCEPTION DO YOU THINK PEOPLE HAVE OF YOUR WORK?
Well, it varies. It tends to generate simultaneously contradictory responses; people often comment on an initial repulsion, but this quickly gives way to a kind of fascination and sometimes comments on a kind of beauty it embodies. I think the fact that I focus on unidealised male nudity, something so often censored out of popular photographic imagery, can initially shock people, but the craft and sensitivity in the imagery has a seductive quality too.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I’ve been working on pieces that address issues relating to the female nude and deal with the scrutiny the female body is subjected to in contemporary media imagery. It’s a kind of counterpoint to the way I am exploring the male nude in my work to date. I’m also developing my ideas into other media -in particular video and drawing.
WHERE CAN WE SEE YOUR WORK THIS YEAR?
I’m currently showing in a group show at Karin Janssen Project Space called Raw Skin in London. I’m working on a new body of work that I’m hoping to show in both NewYork and Spain later this year.
Raw Skin runs until 21 April at the Karin Janssen Project Space, 213 Well Street, London, E9 6QU