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  • 12:39:39 pm
  • Saturday
  • 25 May 2024

Laura Salierno’s Photography

Fine art photographer, Laura Salierno, invited me to her studio recently to chat about her new work, politics, and the Polyvinyl Records rumor.

In her colorful West Hartford studio Laura sits surrounded by scribbled notes and negatives as she organizes in-progress projects. She phoned earlier to confirm our appointment, explaining that she hasn’t been checking her email because her computer’s been in the shop.

TWEED: So what happened to the laptop?

LAURA: My baby... Miss Penelope, my powerbook. The kitten, Chloë, ran at my laptop while it was open on the desk. It was left open by my one and only studio partner who shall remain nameless. Penelope experienced some head trauma, (the screen was damaged). $350 dollars worth of head trauma.

TWEED: How was Chloë afterwards?

LAURA: The cat was spunky as usual. Wait, you mean after she destroyed it or after I body slammed her? I so wanted to kill this cat, but she was so cute. It’s like babies... [Laughs] But it’s ok now.

TWEED: Your recent pieces Private Property and Ideals carry some of the same undertones. Could you talk about those themes a bit?

LAURA: They both involve fragmentation of the female form. The object of the picture becomes dehumanized through the segmentation of their body. They are all faceless or voiceless. They’re not retuning the gaze, you know? There’s a certain amount of power that the viewer holds that the subject doesn’t have.

Both projects are about how the female body has become a fetish object in our culture. There are visual codes that are applied to photography of the female form. These can be changed or manipulated. There’s a power in choosing how something’s going to read. Images are always trying to dupe us or confuse us. If you’re the one that’s making them you can control the signals they send out. You can play with the stereotypes.

TWEED: How does this relate to the rest of your work?

LAURA: There are some themes that carry over. The aesthetics definitely carry over. I like to work with people. I don’t think some of the other recent projects are as charged as Private Property. With Portraits it’s more about capturing the projected identity of the subject, instead of projecting an identity on them. I think my documentary pieces lean more toward “professional” work, while the others definitely reside in fine art.

TWEED: So in general, what’s your work about?

LAURA: Narratives, beauty and brutality... Society’s fascination with viloence and how that can be portrayed as beautiful. Objectification. These photos are really my own observations of the world, be it humorous or brutal.

[Long Pause]

I think people should be photographed from the inside so you can see what they really look like. That way no one would ever vote for Bush! [Laughs]

TWEED: What photographers’ work do you admire?

LAURA: Gregory Crewdson, Philip-Lorca diCorcia. Nan Golden, Diane Arbus... Obviously I like their aesthetic qualities, but also their projected realities. Even their work that’s classified as documentary is very subjective. I like how they see their world, how they create their own version of the world in photos.

TWEED: Well how do you feel about photography and politics? Do you feel images are being used to manipulate the masses?

LAURA: Of course! [Laughs] I wouldn’t blame it all on photography. Television, still photos and illustrations have been around changing the way people think long before this administration. The Nazis made an art out of manipulating people through propaganda.

The same medium is used to sell you a pair of pants as to sell you a war. Those who control what you see control what you believe. It’s all about exposure. If you don’t look for alternatives to what’s around you, you’ll just take what’s fed to you. Consumerism, politics... Makes you hungry...

TWEED: So what’s “Darling” and how do I get it?

LAURA: Darling is a line of customized stationary and greeting cards that Rebecca Kimmons and I are producing. If you want it, we make it. Wedding invitations, announcements... We get a lot of initial contacts through email. [laura AT salierno DOT com] It’s real cheap for the quality! [Laughs].

We’re starting a joint photo studio which we’ll have a website for in the near future. We’re just attempting to make a living in our field. We create distinctive and beautiful imagery for people.

TWEED: I heard a rumor that Polyvinyl Records asked you to do new promo photos for their bands?

LAURA: [Puzzled] That’s news to me. I like Mates of State and Rainer Maria... I wouldn’t mind working with Polyvinyl, but there’s definitely been no communication there. [Laughs] Where’d you here that?

TWEED: Ok, that’s a total lie then. [Pause] Do you have any interest in that sort of thing? I mean band photography, or pop-culture documentary?

LAURA: Yea, that’d be great. I take pictures of anything. It’s a good genre—promoting indie bands. And I’m very interested in documenting American life and pastimes... The dirty stuff: McDonald’s, etc. I started at a water park in Flordia. How we spend our leisure time is fascinating. Band photography is fun, dramatic. Models who are willing to do what I want is exciting. Ahh puppets...

TWEED: How can someone contact you? Are you taking new projects right now?

LAURA: Yea, we’re always interested in new projects. Email is the best right now. Becky and I will eventually have a studio site up under a new name, related to Darling of course. People should visit my site at Send an email to laura AT salierno DOT com and we’ll talk.

Stewart Smith
Wednesday, 14 April 2004

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