Liz Deschenes


L’entretien prévu avec Liz Deschenes n’ayant pu avoir lieu, je reproduis ici le guide d’entretien que j’avais préparé et transmis à l’artiste.


I understand that your work is not a representation of reality, not a reference about something, but a representation of photography itself, of its own ontological process. Could you say more about this opposition between ‘traditional photography’ and your own work?

At the same time, by reflecting upon the early times of photography, Daguerre, Talbot, the photograms, even if this is not about these techniques per se, you reflect about tradition. How do you position itself in this timeline of photography? Would you say that, in order for you to ‘redefine’ photography today, you have to go back to the essentials of photography, as they were initially set up?

In an interview with you, Eileen Quinlan and Walead Beshty by Christopher Bedford, Beshty is very firm about his photographs NOT being abstract. Your answer is, it seems to me, more moderate. What is your position regarding the label ‘abstraction’? Conversely, is it, for you, an element of resemblance and differentiation from painting?

And what about the label ‘experimental’?

In the same interview, you indicated that, for you, process was more of a means to an end. Could one conclude that your approach could not be readily qualified as conceptual? How would you define your relation with / dependence upon process-based approaches? Is your work in some sort of resonance with conceptual works of the last 50 years in photography (John Hilliard, Ugo Mulas, Franco Vaccari, Jan Dibbets…) or outside of photography?

I have read in a press release the expression ‘misphotograph’ referring to your black photogram, meaning that it is a black surface with no image to see. Could you elaborate on this term? ‘mis’ as opposed to ‘non’, not exactly the same concept, I thought.

You alluded a few times to the decisive moment, saying also that a photograph is capable of representing much more than a moment in time. How would you define the time dimension of your work? Are your photographs outside time? Or is the time dimension only present in the fact that they change (oxidize) over time?

You give a very strong importance to the conditions of viewing, to the exhibition space. Mirroring the space seems the most important part, but also how do you take into account the body of the viewer? How can he/she become, if not an actor, at least a participant? Not only with his/her eyes, but also his/her distance from your work, his/her movements in the room, his/her various points of view, angles of vision? (Very much true at Secession)

You make the analogy of cameras as rooms. Have you ever thought of rooms as cameras, i.e. camera obscura?

Most of your work is impossible (or at least very difficult) to photograph. Besides the obvious artifact, should one read something into this impossibility? Niepce’ first photograph is also impossible to photograph, although one can see what it depicts under certain conditions of light and angle (

You said that “painting’s rejection of depiction has condemned photography to depict”; some say that abstract painting could start only because indeed photography tool over the figurative task, and even more so the self-reflexive currents in painting such as Support Surface. One of my assumptions is that the omnipresence of digital photography today, and the resulting abundance of images, is leading analog photography to move away from figuration (representation of the world) towards self-reflexivity, whether one calls it abstraction or experimentation. Would you tend to agree with that?


Whom do you see as having inspired you?
Specifically photographers?
Writers, philosophers, critics?

Do you know the writings of Vilém Flusser? Did they have any importance for you?
And those of Franco Vaccari?

Whom do you see as your peers in your exploration of photography?

And any disciples? Or young photographers doing work in a similar vein whom I should know?

Finally, could you send me some documentation about the show you curated, Photography about Photography?