Introducing Anna Kasko, SAD's Featured Artist for the month of April, just in time for the Capture Photography Festival. She's one of the talented and expressive photographers exhibiting work in the fest, and I just can't get enough! A few words one could use to describe her photographs are: subdued, familiar, contemplative. I'm in love. If you'd like to know more about Anna and her practice, read on!
Sarah Bakke: How are you?! What did you do today?
Anna Kasko: It's been a good day so far; I woke up late and went out for my favourite breakfast at Scandilicious, then made my way into Gastown to have work done on a back piece my friend Eckel is tattooing on me. The sun's out, I'm feeling good.
SB: How did you begin your photography practice?
AK: Ever since I was very young, I've had an interest in taking photographs. One of my first times using a camera, that I can remember, was on a trip to Alaska with my family—I was about ten years old. My mother had given me a point-and-shoot Olympus Superzoom and I shot around 12 rolls of film. I loved it. I still have the bag of film at my mother's place, deep in a box. They were never developed, so the interest was more so in arresting a moment, I guess.
My photography practice started defining itself through my discovery of a need to take photos, and finding that I adored certain images in artistic magazines and books. I realized that I could create [forms] aesthetically, and turn that moment of capture into something interesting. I had an interest in photographing the everyday and in paying attention to transient moments or banal happenings. I started looking at a lot of photographers more closely, beginning with the classics: Robert Frank, Saul Leiter, Helen Levitt, Lisette Model, Garry Winogrand, Walker Evans... and so on.
I worked in Black and White film photography for about seven years before taking a class in colour film photography with Stephen Waddell, at Emily Carr University. He opened me up to different ways of seeing, allowing me to use colour as a tool to capture the everyday. I now work primarily in colour photography.
SB: What is it that most inspires you to keep taking photographs?
AK: I see moments everywhere that would make great images. If I don't have my camera with me, I usually point and say, "oh! A good photograph." [laughs] In Between Shows we see a young girl in blue and pink observing a performer at rest in a rather muted unicorn outfit, who is seemingly unaware of her gaze. There is something absorbing in being able to capture a moment like this, when accumulative happenings—that otherwise would've been just flashes of memory or forgotten images—become permanent. I want to photograph the thing that makes me pause and take notice.
There is something in the act of capturing that still drives me to take photographs. In the end, I'm excited to see in greater detail the reason for my photographing of that specific subject or space. Other things might emerge after developing a roll of film that I hadn't originally seen. I find it creatively stimulating to familiarize myself with the control I have learned through study and practice, and with how it intertwines in collaboration with the everyday. The hunt is an inherent strength of photography, I think, though some say [the medium] is in a state of turmoil. I'm not so sure about that opinion.
Two emerging artists who I am currently looking at are Ryan Mathieson from Vancouver and Katie Sadie of Toronto. They are doing some really cool things. Every time I see their work, it pushes me—they are great motivators. I think we all work with the same concerns; the everyday, and how to make a piece that calls for rapt attention. I think we are all trying to find our spot within the digital age, and discover what our practice says in conversation with it.
SB: What's next? What are you excited about in the future?
AK: I am excited to see where photography goes. I think the digital age is a big concern for photographers, as to where an image is kept, or displayed. I'm not worried, though; I just think we have to figure out what that that concept means to us and not allow this form of art to get lost in the digital masses. I think it's more interesting to go to a gallery and view images that it is to view them online, but I'm sure some people think the opposite. Having that privileged space on your phone or computer could open up the form to a lot of people, but I also think that pulling back to the object in photography and the process is still important. Working in both film and digital photography, I find it a fascinating dialogue. I believe there are still going to be photographs that belong on the wall and in a gallery regardless of the technology used to create it—I just wonder where the line of separation is going to be drawn. How are those images selected and acknowledged? That conversation is for another interview.
Recently, I have been working on a project involving found images—old slides. I have about 2000 slides, mostly Kodachrome and Agfa film from 1954 to 1990. They are photographs taken by one photographer who travelled a lot, and I have been spending time finding images to pair up and overlay (either in a light-box, with the two physical slides overlaid, or as a print that has been scanned and digitally merged). I think the object of the slide is interesting, and working with this nostalgia in photography. I think it is a captivating way to represent photography, while the mass of digital photography runs parallel. I am still taking photographs digitally—though not nearly as frequently as in previous years—and I find that this process is doing something completely different.
SB: You have some work in this year's Capture Photography Festival; can you talk a little bit about the group exhibition that you're a part of? How it came to be, and how your work speaks to the Capture Dreams exhibition title?
AK: For this exhibition, I am showing my collages. These collages began as a study of my own work; every photographer has failed images, and so I used my failed images to create something new. I isolated the sections that I thought were interesting, or that were the reason for my taking of the photograph, and placed them onto a new working canvas. The amount of selected photographs varies, but all contain white negative space (the canvas), since I wanted to be sure to create a study of separate images working together, rather than a finished new image. This might be the only time that I show these collages—they're not what my main focus is. It has been a good exercise in looking at my process and my choices, though. I consider myself to be more of a straight photographer than a collage artist, but I'm excited to have this opportunity to show what I think are successful collages from failed photographs, and have them be a part of Capture.
I also have another exhibition, in conjunction with Capture, at Parker Street Studios (100-1000 Parker Street) with Fine Art Framing in partnership with Patron Art House. I am showing light-box works and a print, as well. Hope to see you there!
Both openings, for Anna's Capture Photography Festival exhibition and her Parker Street Studios show, are happening on Friday, April 6. If you'd like to view her work, and perhaps even meet her face to face, be sure to check 'em out!
The Capture Dreams group exhibition will be on display at the Listel Hotel (1300 Robson Street) until September 30, 2018.