Joanne Leah's Acid Mass by Pacific Dissent

Who are you? 

My name is Joanne Leah and I am an artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. I was born in Germany, adopted at birth and grew up in a small mountain town in Southwest Virginia. I create photo-based images examining the relationship between the human form and conventional objects, materials and substances.

What is Acid Mass about?

Acid Mass started when I was a rebellious teenager. I would take LSD, go to raves, and my mother would make me go to Catholic mass on Sunday morning while I was still hallucinating. My work is based on my perception of that experience: ritualistic, cultish, surreal and somewhat violent.

What was your intention behind the series?

It began casually, but evolved into intentionally considering my personal history and childhood memories. I feel as if I am conducting otherworldly science experiments depicting human subjects enveloped in heavy jewel tones. Staging body parts as design elements, I entomb my subjects in mysterious materials and substances, transforming them into something beyond human.

What inspired the series and it’s use of color?

I started working with a vivid color palette after finishing a dark, low-light, unsaturated series inspired by German Renaissance paintings. I struggled with color for months, and almost gave up because the images looked too commercial. I finally realized the colors should resemble muted jewel tones influenced by my previous low-light series.

Can you tell us a little about your shooting process?

My father is a scientist, and my process emulates the scientific method of research and investigation. I "collect" props, food, liquids, colors and human subjects. Each color, concept, object and subject is chosen carefully based on how they will interact while aligning with my subconscious vision. I document sequences of movement and interaction, and have started creating video loops using my still images

Acid Mass

Make sure to check out more of Joanne's work on her website and instagram

Pacific Dissent Interviews Photographer AdeY by Pacific Dissent

Sustain

Sustain

What's your creative process like? Do you come across a location, find inspiration, then find your models and return for a shoot, or do you typically venture somewhere with a model and shoot on the spot?

I always go into a shoot with a clear idea of what I want to portray. Maybe the inspiration started with the model or location first but somehow in my head they have a connection. Then we start the photoshoot and I nearly always become a complete opportunistic maniac. I get so engulfed with improvisation that it once ended with me hanging naked out of a top floor hotel window trying to photograph a friend naked unaware the family in the next room had prime viewing. It turned out they weren’t so happy!

A lot of your photographs take place in abandoned locations, what draws you to these places and what significance does location play in your photographs?

Dysphoria

Dysphoria

For me it’s like a blank canvas. I see an interesting space and then wonder how a body can be perceived in that environment. Somehow I’m so attracted to the emptiness and void of abandoned spaces knowing that they used to be alive in one form or another.

Your photographs are carefully composed - do you wish to convey a specific meaning to the viewer with each image or is your work specifically meant to be interpreted

It’s like a process of elimination. I’m sure about what I don’t want to do, so that leaves me with what I do want…. apart from when I don’t know what I’m doing and then we go back to improvising. :-)

Is the purpose of your work to evoke emotions that your feeling or have them create their own? Do you want them to see your pieces how you see them or are you trying to create a discussion?

It’s funny one of my best friends describe me as an emotional geek today! I was recalling to her how about a month ago I watched Under The Skin (British film starring Scarlett Johansson) and I still feel emotionally disturbed by it! I think that film left room for interpretation emotionally and that is something I definitely try to convey through my work. I hope my images do evoke an emotional response and consequently a talking point.  Maybe I am just an emotional geek though…. Toy Story 3 cut me up real bad!

Calm Before the Storm

Calm Before the Storm

Has anything crazy ever happened during a shoot? Ever been caught shooting naked models?

Relax

Relax

Apart from hanging naked out of a hotel room? hmmmm…. well actually there was this time I was taking pictures in a sauna in a small country town in Sweden. I asked 4 guys to lay on top of of each other naked like a sandwich and just as I’m about to click the shutter big old Mr Security Guard walks in! I told him we were taking holiday snaps!

Do you fit the model with a predetermined space or once you're in the space do you find a way for the model to interact with the location?

As I said before one is normally the initial inspiration and then I try to fit the body and space together. I want them to work together otherwise I feel there is no starting point or relationship.

Consume

Consume

Involutary Migration

Involutary Migration

You can check out more of AdeY's work here on his blog. Or add him on Instagram: @__adey__