Coming up in the November issue, Digital Photo Pro interviews photographer Kitfox Valentín, who grabs a viewer with composed, complicated and sometimes disturbing images
Kitfox Valentín wants you to feel uncomfortable, at least for the time you’re contemplating his visual creations. For his exhibition “TOOTHSOME/LOATHSOME,” the Brooklyn-based photographer explores visual juxtapositions such as beauty and grotesqueness, serenity and fear, to provoke viewers to question their initial perceptions. People at times fly through Valentín’s scenarios, but seldom without an underlying sense of unease rather than the freedom normally associated with taking to the sky.
Here’s part of the Q&A preview:
DPP: Beauty and a sense of unease come into place in a number of images such as knives with a subject’s foot hovering just above. What are you saying with these images?
Valentín: I’m drawn to the conflict that exists in what I started calling “the beautiful awkward” and eventually became an exhibition series titled “TOOTHSOME/LOATHSOME,” which uses a highly polished beauty-informed style to showcase scenes ranging from awkward to disturbing. While each individual piece has its own story, the overarching theme of the series is to confront what we take for granted as attractive or comfortable and get us to question those things, question our ethics of attraction.
DPP: Where do these ideas come from, and how do you turn these scenarios into reality?
Valentín: My image origins likely stem from an interest in observing culture and continually questioning what I see. The process of exploring the world around me and exploring myself inform one another and raise the ideas or questions that I want to visually discuss. When the image coalesces in my brain, I usually write a description and/or sketch a thumbnail in a collection of image ideas that I keep. Then starts the creative problem-solving process of turning them into reality. I’m not particularly a purist when it comes to photography, so I’ll consider all tools at my disposal when making an image and will often shoot as many elements as necessary to compile a scene.
Budget is always a concern, whether working within a client’s or without much of one to speak of, as is the case with most of my personal projects. I’ve been fortunate enough to have support and helping hands along the way when I’ve needed assistance, whether it’s holding a light or having 20 naked people to roll around in a pool of paint. Working with people is a critical element of what I do. I’m currently developing a new collaborative project, “GROUND+CENTER”—@groundandcenter on Instagram—that’s my next stage of creative development in which I’m exploring the intersection of time and place, awareness and movement. It has started thus far with traveling to and exploring a variety of landscapes and how we can interact with them at the most fundamental levels.
Look for the full article by Mark Edward Harris when the issue goes on newsstands October 31, 2017. See more of Kitfox Valentín’s work on his website at photovalentin.com and on Instagram @kitfoxvalentin