Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Margot Quan Knight on her Necromorph Exhibit

Margot Quan Knight Knows Necromorph

Halloween is just about here and Seattle CoCA is putting on a showing fitting for the holiday: The Necromorph Exhibit, running October 4 – November 1, 2007 and curated by Rachelle Taylor.

Exhibiting her arresting images for us, Margot Quan Knight’s photos have an eerie, almost otherworldly quality to them. For example, her “Dirt Baby” photo and the “Dock Triptych” (part of her Procreation series) yanked my attention so severely I felt immediately compelled to stare into the stark reality of the rhythms of life.

“I am guessing there is a hint (at least) of a message to society in your photographs--am I misinterpreting this?”

“River is from a series I made in 2003 called ‘Taking Care,’” Margot says, “which is less of a message-to-society and more about looking inwards to make visible an emotional reality that I was experiencing.”

“Your ‘Dirt Baby photo--how did you craft the image? What significance does it have?”

Margot: “I rode my bike to Toys R Us, bought the most appealing baby doll, sanded down its plastic hair, covered it in clay, rolled it in dirt, and photographed it in the garden at my parents’ house. . . . I turned to the oldest 7-day story I could think of, Genesis. I was also realizing that I had reached child-bearing age, and some of my anxiety about that might have come out in Dirt Baby. ”

“Although I realize each person will react to your photos in their own way, is there a methodology behind your photos, a communication you are making? What concepts or methods are you using to encourage viewers to think?”

“At the time," Margot says, "I was thinking about the Procreation series, our President was vetoing funding for stem cell research [and] articles about “religion vs. science” kept cropping up in the NY Times, the Vatican sponsored an ad campaign against in-vitro fertilization in Italy, and I had my own paranoia about childbearing, so these things glommed together and became a subject. I took what mattered to me personally at that time, plus some connection to the world, plus a lot of reading at the library, and learning some art history. That was the method in the case of Procreation. It turned into a re-telling of the story of the birth of Christ within the context of stem cell research: Mary becomes a scientist, the immortal child is an immortal stem cell line, and things spiral out from there. I based my photos on the structure of medieval and renaissance religious paintings, which were designed to communicate to illiterate viewers, so the stiff directness of that style comes through in the photos.”

“How are you using religious symbolism? Can you tell us what role this plays in your work?”

Margot ponders my question and responds: “Christianity was central to the debate on federal funding for embryonic research . . . I looked at religious paintings . . . and tried to find places where the Christian story melted into the current story. People were articulating a cultural divide and I was trying to find places where art could confuse the divide and make space for thinking.”

(Dock Triptych was sponsored in part by a 2005 GAP Grant by Artist Trust.)

For more images from Margot, click on her link below.

No comments: