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Noovo Editions

Noovo Editions is an independent editorial project with online and paper editions. First of its kind in Spain from an unique and contemporary perspective on the international panorama,
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Interviews -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 

 
-----.INTERVIEW WITH MONA KUHN
Mona Kuhn is best known for her large-scale, dream-like photographs of nudes. She has described her work as redefining ways of looking at the body, her nudes often reference classical themes with a light and insightful touch. Kuhn’s approach to her photography is unusual in that she usually develops close relationships with her subjects, resulting in images of remarkable naturalness and intimacy, and creating the effect of people naked but comfortable in their own skin.

Kuhn was born in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1969, of German descent. She received her BA from The Ohio State University, before furthering her studies at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1996. She is currently an independent scholar at The Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles.

Kuhn’s first monograph, Photographs, was debut by Steidl in 2004; immediately followed by Evidence (2007), Native (2010), and Bordeaux Series (2011). Mona's upcoming book is titled Private (release early 2014).

Mona Kuhn's work has been exhibited and/or included in the collections of The J.Paul Getty Museum, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Museum of Photographic Art in San Diego, The George Eastman House International Museum of Art in Rochester, the Griffin Museum in Boston, Miami Museum of Art, the Cincinnati Art Museum, North Carolina Museum of Art, Georgia Museum of Art, The International Center of Photography in NYC. In Europe, her work has been exhibited at the Royal Academy of Art in London England, Deichtorhallen in Hamburg Germany, Musée de l'Élysée in Switzerland, Centre d'art Contemporain at Musée Chaleroi in France, the Leopold Museum in Vienna Austria, and the Australian Center for Photography in Sydney. Currently, Mona lives and works in Los Angeles.

Who is Mona Kuhn?
That is a good question, and one that is hard to answer. I am not yet quite sure. My life is a journey and I am learning as I go with it. Each new series is another angle I am curious about and fascinated to follow that inspiration. But where it comes from, I don't know. So in short, I am figuring out who I am as I continue to create new work.



Why do you choose nude as the subject for your work?
I see the body as a residence to our emotions, our soul, our inner selves. As we bloom, and as we decay. A painting from Gauguin, titled "Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?" from 1897, summorizes a question we all have, but one that i decided to use as basis to my creative source. I am intrigued by nudes as an essence of who we are. i enjoy the sense of freedom and confidence. I photograph the human in us, without shame, without regret, free and timeless.



You have develop a close relationship with your subject, resulting in images of remarkable naturalness and intimacy, and creating the effect of people naked but comfortable in their own skin, but how is the process of get those subject naked? How would you define your work?
I create an environment of trust, where people come together and feel comfortable collaborating with me in creating large scale dream like images. I like when life and art come together, that is the magic to me. I start by imagining colors. I don’t know why, but coloration comes to me first. From there I tie in emotion, then location and last the people. I might be working months into a project before I find the right person to photograph. This preliminary phase gives me time to submerge, to really feel and bring out what I am trying to say, what I am trying to express. By the time I start photographing people, I already know what I want, the visual vocabulary is matured, so photographing people feels natural and in line with the overall emotion I am trying to convey. I began taking photographs at age 12, when my parents gave me a small Kodak camera for my birthday. The first images were of my friends during that day. In a way, little has changed. I like to photograph people I have known for a while, or good friends of friends of mine. I find people thru word of mouth, someone’s boyfriend, sister, cousin. It feels more intimate, a bit like an extended family.



You had born in Brazil but, do you think is there any influence by the time you´ve chose the nude subject in your photographs?
Growing up in Brazil has a huge influence in who I am today. I lived the first 20 years of my life in Brazil, spending time at the beach, farms and the rainforest. It was a great and free way of growing up, learning about my instincts, the smells of fruits in the forest, the sounds of a thousand birds, the body, the heat….all of that comes from my upbringing in Brazil. Then in the last 20 years, I have translated some of it into my visual vocabulary.



What do you think is the most important factor in making a good picture?
To know who or what you are photographing. It is not about photography, it should be about life. I spend 80% of my time talking to people I love and care about. We share stories, enjoy the time together. The images are a consequence of this beautiful relationship that grows as you spend time with each other
.


What is the most important picture you have done and why?
I have taken many images that mean the world to me. But the most important would have to be the "next one" It is always the next one! I am always searching for the next thing, the next mystery, or circumstances. It is like the air I keep on breathing in and out.



What kind of influence you´ve got or in which photographer´s or artist are you influenced by?
I am influenced by everything, movies, photography, billboards, books, paintings, graffiti. I am looking and absorbing all I can see with my eyes. In regards to photography, early on my strongest influences were Mario Cravo Neto, a Brazilian photographer working mostly with dark figures and nudes. His work is sensational, and early on influenced mine very much. Then when I moved to the US, I was marveled by the work of the twin brothers Starn. It had little direct influence on my personal work, but it opened my mind for taking photography as a serious form of expression. I also love the lifetime works of Nan Goldin, Leon Levinstein and the photography in Julian Schnabel’s movies.



What are you getting involve with, now or what are your upcoming plans?
Steidl is publishing my 5th monograph this year, titled "Private". It is a series of images taken in the american desert (California and Arizona), with parallels to T.S.Eliot's poems and the French explorer Theodore Monod's ideas. It is a series of portraits, nudes and landscapes in tonalities ranging from sand/golden to dark shades of shadows and blacks. It is a series I developed having in mind the human vulnerability, exposed to the challenging desert, a place known for testing human endurance and perseverance to live.


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

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