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Noovo Editions

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Interviews -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 

 
-----.INTERVIEW WITH LINDA TROELLER

Who is Linda Troeller?
Linda Troeller is a NY art photographer living at the Chelsea Hotel. She has published, "Chelsea Hotel: An Artist's Memoir," with Blurb.com which was exhibited at the F-stop Festival and recently won the special exhibition award from the Teplice Photo Festival near Prague. She exhibited the photographs at the University of the Arts, Melkweg Gallery and at the Coda Museum, Netherlands. She has been published by Aperture with her Pictures of the Year awarding winning book, Healing Waters and by powerHouse Books for Spa Journeys. Her Scalo, Switzerland book, Erotic Lives of Women, with writer Marion Schneider, opened at Galerie Fotohof, Salzburg where she taught at the Summer Arts Academy. It was reviewed in the New York Times Review of Books, "as one of the gutsy books of the decade".



How would you define your work?
My art practice explores photography of women, identity, sexuality, water, and a sense of place.

What type of cameras do you shoot with?
I started with a Rollei 2 ¼ camera and Leica M-3 double stroke, with hand held metering.  I then worked with the Minolta 101 and moved to Canon systems. In 2001 I went digital with a Nikon coolpix and all the Canon Rebels, now the 4Ti.



What differences do you find between analog/digital?
I pioneered using very fast slide films with camera shake, blur, low and colored lighting to create atmospheric images. This moody view is unfortunately not reproducible in digital with the same viseral and grain power. I’ve learned to provide some aspects of this style, but I have had to adapt to a clearer, cleaner digital output.

What do you think is the most important factor in making a good picture?
For me, a good picture has a magic, structure, and presence.

Tell us a little bit about your photography style, what do you think makes it different?
I am a huntress of emotion.



You live at the Chelsea Hotel in NY, but how would you describe the experience of living in such a place, is still as it was?
The hotel is under renovation and has new owners that make living conditions unhealthy and unfriendly for the past two years. It is also now closed to the public so it is missing that unique ‘lobby’ interaction with people from around the world. The best years were in the 90’s, early 2000 with a lot of comrade with the artists in the building as well as guests who would stay for weeks. I enjoyed photographing people and at one point the former manager, Stanley Bard and I worked toward a book on the hotel. In those years, I was assigned to shoot stories in the hotel too. One year a man arrived from Japan, took a room on my floor and proceeded to sit in the lobby everyday dressed as an angel. He then chose me to be the photographer to document him, and a spread ran in New York Magazine.
Alexander McQueen stayed in the hotel for his first fashion show, met me in the lobby, came to my room to see my photographs, and invited to the VIP section of his event in the lower east side. I met Larry Fink who was shooting the show and was influenced to take his workshop and  McQueen’s color palette of off-white and blood red was inspirational in how I photographed at the time.
On most Valentine’s Day, there is often a party to remember Vali Meyer, an Australian artist, who had lived in the hotel and decorated her room lavishly. There were many gatherings, music shoots, poetry readings, that brought together fascinating people with a vibe to party and share ideas.



Which artists did you get to know at the Chelsea?
I got to know the painters, Sir David Refry and George Chemche, Gerald Busby, composer for “Three Women,” and actor, Ethan Hawke, as well as poet, Herbert Huncke and Andy Warhol biographer, Victor Bockris.  I was in two artist’s films on the Chelsea Hotel by residents, Nicola and part-time resident, Abel Ferrara for his film, “Chelsea on the Rocks.” I met Milos Forman, Grace Jones, Patti Smith, Nina Hagen and others casually around the hotel.
You were assistant at the Ansel Adams Workshops and assisted Annie Leibovitz’s workshop there, how do you describe those experiences? and how is to work with those big names? Ansel told me he photographed nature because it is ‘terribly important.’ When he saw my photos of women he said they delighted him, explaining to me that it upset him that people too often put him in a category of landscape, since he had much wider concerns and ideas.  Ten years later, I assisted Annie at these workshops. She was showing students her lighting and portrait techniques. They brought the lights out to a view overlooking the famous half dome in Yosemite. She was posing Ansel’s daughter and her daughter.  She guided them into an amazing embrace, when suddenly the assistant blew out the lighting gear.  When fixed again, Annie was not able to bring the two women back into that powerful portrait. She told us, ‘your audience doesn’t know the photograph you missed, just move on and do the best.’ When I have missed opportunities along the way myself, I refer to her honest assessment to guide me.



What artists and photographers are you influenced by, and whom do you enjoy?
Tim Walker’s photographs in Vogue and his photo books fascinate me. He started out as Richard Avedon’s assistant in NYC and now lives in London.  The recent W spread he shot of the actress Tilda Swinton at the house of eccentric Edward James in Mexico produced dark surreal dreamscapes that are enthralling to me.I’ve enjoyed following the careers Alfredo Jaar since I was a guest artist at the same time at the Summer Art Academy in Salzburg, Austria and Arno Rafael Minikkinen who I was in a Paris gallery with. Alfredo just won the SCAD Award and Arno won A Lucie for Fine Art. Alfredo has been integrating new technologies into his socially motivated projects. Arno continued exploring self-portraiture of his body in nature with the same photographic black and white technique he started with. I am intrigued by the photographs of Wendall White, Deborah Willis, Lawrence Jasud,  and my two former assistants, Mary Mattingly and Juliana Irene Smith and follow their exhibitions and books.



Your images are sensually charged but, what is the intention of those images?
Desire is fuel for the body/mind and I am interested in exploring my reactions in life whether thru my own body or others, and evocative locations. My “Self Portrait/Self Reflection” photographs explored my life, age, sex and identity and is edited from 40 years of self-portraits that were not made as a ‘preplanned’ body of work but evolved as I went through markers of life. They reveal exciting sex to painful endings, to the onset of Lyme disease, to being at a beautiful meditation camp, to the freedom I felt nude in a fecund environment…. I also included photographs that other photographers took of me, which show a range of perceptions on who I am in their eyes. I brought the photographs together in 2009-10 as the growth of facebook self-portraits and iphone “selfies” became common. It’s understandable it is so popular because self-portraiture is a tool to learn about photographing and gives the illusion of making a memory more tangible. The self-portraits were shown at Ververs Gallery last January in Amsterdam and at photography festivals in Athens and on the Canary Islands and it was reviewed in La Lettre de Photography from France as “insightful.”



Do you think artists use the self-portrait as a therapy?
Yes, very much so. Whether looking at your interior being or looking at the outer world, photography has therapeutic uses. This summer June 6-8, 2014 I’ll teach a “Self-Portrait” workshop at Peters Valley Workshops (http://www.petersvalley.org) in northern New Jersey. I taught the workshop several times to university students and young women from a favela in Medellin, Colombia. The students became more aware of their stigma and found new approaches to reveal and change how they felt about their poverty, lack of identity as photography became an outlet for frustrations and growth.



Your early works seems to be in Black & white, we all know that B&W is as strong as a black coffee but, what was the intention of this use and why did you give up the use of the B&W pictures?
I started in b.w and learned the zone system from Ansel Adams which led to my first teaching position at Indiana University.  However, I had also run a color darkroom at Syracuse University for my assistantship there so I was introduced to both mediums early on in my education. I searched for relationships and structures in b/w and I found that in color I could infuse more emotion, so I moved on to using it more.



What do you find in color pictures that are not in the B&W pictures?
I think the sensation of emotion and the mystical involved with color seduced me. I admired surrealism such as the work of the great Medixcan painter, Leonora Carrington, whose shimmering ghostly figures depended on a lightness of being available in the many hues and gradations of color.  I wanted to put this into my images and found it possibly with color films.



How would you define your "Healing Waters" project? And what do you want to express with this project?
I’ve always been interested in aspects of healing when I first tried the mud in San Jose Purua in the mid-70’s. The Indians at a hot spring also taught me to drip the water over my heart to free myself of bad karma. This led me on a search to hot springs. At these locations, it was often dark, so I used their unusual lighting through accepting blur and movement into my photographs. This provided the feeling and
sensation of water. For me, mist is a mode for transporting the mystical nuances in such environments.



In your new collaboration with Marion Schneider, Intimacies, the focus continues on women's sexuality with interviews and images on orgasm but, why do you have this continues focus in women sexuality? Do you think women are not really sexual fulfilled?
Women are confused by the power of sex as it is more and more available through social media on the one hand and on the other taboos and stigma still persist. By focusing on 25 women of different ages, nationality, and background (eight women are Germans, four American, three Dutch, three Israeli, one Portuguese) the personal accounts explain  how much women are searching more dramatically how to be fulfilled. Currently, an emerging plurality of forms from mono to trans to pan gender culture also diffuses the concept of gender and roles and identity.
The interviewer who works with me on the project, Marion Schneider, asks these questions and I photograph the re-staged answers.

“What does the word orgasm mean to you?”
“Can you remember your first orgasm and show it/your feelings to the camera?”
“Can you remember your strongest orgasm and show it/your feelings to the camera?”
“Do you have fantasies when you create/experience an orgasm?”
“What is the future of orgasm in society/the world?”

My photographs in this project show an accumulated yielding that speaks of and to those who wish to ‘break’ free.
We are in the process of talking to publishers and exhibition sites to bring these stories to the public. We want to give women a voice so they don’t have to be victims of approval to experience their innermost orgasmic sensations and healthy beliefs.



A documentary on your photography, "Inside the Frame: Linda Troeller" is due out at the end of this year 2013 by Canadian filmmaker, Jeff McKay. How would you describe the experience and please give us an idea of what we´ll find in that film?
Jeff has had to extend the debut date to the end of 2014 since he has had a few new films to finish and is financing the final cut himself. The idea of the film started when we met in my room at the Chelsea Hotel for an interview on my Healing Waters book for another film he created on a swimmer. After his visit, he said he’d like to do a film on my life and won an arts grant in Canada. Over a year he shot where I was born by the Jersey shore, interviewed some of the major photographers who photographer me at the Ansel Adams Workshops such as Lucien Clergue at his Arles studio,  interviewed my major gallerist for ten years in Paris, and I met him with my major collectors in Germany. He also followed me shooting my portraits for my Chelsea Hotel Atmosphere –An Artist’s Memoir book, which is available on www.blurb.com. Jeff has also integrated his own experimental camerawork into the fabric of the film’s style, so it is rather a creative compilation than a straight documentary.



So, what's next for you?
What will be my legacy is on my mind. I am staying focused on the new “Intimacies” project as I believe this work on orgasm will be useful to society as my TB-AIDS Diary was, to point out the stigmatic situation. It’s tough as my material is in a traditional format, but I hope it can squeeze through the curator/publisher gates which are narrow for this kind of work.
I was inspired when I read the Day Books of Edward Weston in the 1970’s. Weston wrote in his diary, “One should challenge accepted thinking, particularly one’s own.” It’s even truer today. Agility and curiosity are prescient requirements in the next decade to carry a photographer forward with demands of new technology and art practices. It is damaging to get stuck in one’s brand or stay fixed on an outmoded dream. It’s a challenge for me.   

More info: http://www.lindatroeller.com  
   

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