FEBURARY 15, 2016
Q & A with February Artist, John Steck Jr.
The second installment of this month's LDOC is out today! Check it out via issuu, pick up a copy at one of our newspaper dispensers this week, or come find us at the Lake St. Red Line stop today from 5-7PM.
Steck has produced a series of Disappearing Photographs made from found negatives in Chicago resale shops, specifically to coincide with his LDOC issue. Please head over to here page to purchase prints.
Also, a selection of Steck’s Disappearing Photographs will be on display at the MoCP at 40 exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Photography (600 S Michigan Ave) until April 20, 2016.
Here is his Q&A:
Tell us about the work featured in your issue of LDOC
This series of work was basically a failed attempt to erase memory.
It is fascinating to me how the meaning of an image can change over time. This was something I had noticed when looking through my own archive of images. Images that had once contained such a meaningful or positive memory for me had turned into something quite less. A lot of these images related to moments of loss, nostalgia, fondness and love.
Being that the memories in these images are changing as I am as a human being, I thought it would be interesting to also witness the physical photograph change alongside me. It was my hopes in the beginning to see if these images would leave my memories permanently. But having worked with this imagery and slowly watching them disappear, I have found that the images themselves still remain imbedded inside me, yet the meanings behind these photographs have become lost, and at times, desensitized.
As an artist who works with handmade books and zines, how do you feel a photo book is different than seeing work on gallery walls?
Funny enough, this series of disappearing photographs started out as a book project. This was the first time I ever attempted to make a book out of work I had not even created yet, being that most of the books and zines I make are usually to wrap up a project or to witness it in a new context. Taking this backwards attempt was quite challenging, but it still withheld to the same principles I like to follow in that the book should always be an extension of the project. There are too many photo books that exist for the sake of being just a photo book, and I’ve always had this goal to break out of that mode of though. A photo book should be a new look at a project, but while withholding the key elements of the original work.
A photo book will always be different that what we see on a gallery wall because of how intimate the experience is to flip though a book. Unfortunately, I think that is one thing that a gallery exhibition cannot always offer. Working in photo books for the past seven years has definitely helped me to think more sculpturally about my photographs, and how to better enhance how a viewer might experience my work.
Who are some of your favorite artists working in Chicago right now?
Julie Weber and Doug Fogelson are two of my favorite Chicago artists working within the medium of photography, who handle their materials to create compelling work.
What’s next for you, projects you are working on or exhibitions coming up?
I currently have a selection of disappearing photographs on display at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, as part of their MoCP at 40 exhibition. In August, I will be the Artist in Resident at Latitude in Chicago, where I will be completing a book project for my series Pictures of You. This series, featured in the second installment of LDOC, are disappearing photographs of me and my mother together. I will also be exhibiting in June as part of a three-person exhibition with Hatch Projects, where I am a current resident. The work I will be exhibiting is still in progress, but will focus on photographic images being created throughout the exhibition, as opposed to disappearing like my current work.
John Steck Jr. is a visual artist from Chicago who received his BFA at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design and his MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute. He has exhibited across fifteen states as well as in Iceland, Hungary and Tokyo. Steck has completed artist residencies in both Ireland and Iceland and was also a finalist for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 Fulbright Fellowship. His book Fragments, Volume One was selected as Best Books of 2010 on photoeye.com. Recent publications include Romka Magazine, Aint Bad Magazine, The Ephemeral, The Hand Magazine and Incandescent. He is a current Artist in Resident at HATCH Projects in Chicago and a current Adjunct Faculty at Waubonsee Community College.