SafARI Artist Profile: Laura Moore
Laura Moore’s photographic series Hereinbefore hits pretty close to home; the artist sat herself in front of her camera, remembered hurtful school memories and photographed her dramatic and honest emotions. The moving series won Moore the iD Digital Portraiture Award in 2012. Moore is interested in our relationship to photography; why we take photographs and how we interpret them. In this social-media crazed world, if we didn’t document it then did it really happen? Moore addresses themes of identity through the photographic image. She is inspired by her everyday life, observations and memories. We spoke to Moore about how she creates and how she sees photography impacting the art world.
What is your earliest memory of art? Did you grow up thinking this was what you wanted to do?
Art wasn't something I had a lot of exposure to as a child but I do remember taking my first photograph. I would have been around five and I was at a beach in Darwin and I took a photo of my mother and it was the first time she had ever let me use the camera. The memory is very clear so it must have meant a lot to me at the time, or perhaps the memory is so clear because I have a photograph to reinforce it.
In a general sense, what inspires and influences your work the most?
When I was in my late teens, Sydney street photographer Marco Bok said to me that, “If you can't take a decent picture in your own backyard, you shouldn’t be a photographer.” This sentence has stayed with me ever since. Not that I literally take pictures of my backyard but my work is often inspired and informed by my everyday life, observations and memory. I try to be a good observer and that includes introspection. Art has given me a reason to examine everything more closely than I might otherwise. This method of working usually results in very personal content but my ultimate intention is for the work to expand beyond its autobiographical nature and offer an invitation to speculation and projection.
Why are photographs so important to you? Do you feel it comes from the idea that they can save/restore memories that might otherwise be forgotten?
I think that photography and memory have an interesting and complex relationship. Both hold a presumption of accuracy and reality that can make them a little bit dangerous. For me photography offers a way of seeing but not necessarily an accurate way. We often talk of a photograph being taken as opposed to made but behind every photograph we see, lies an infinite number of very human decisions, choices and preferences. While I think I was originally drawn to photography as a search for truth I have come to understand that a photograph can only ever be an interpretation of reality.
You experiment with digital mediums, why do you favour technology over more traditional artistic methods?
I am interested in our relationship to photography, the reasons we take photos and the way we read them. My work addresses themes of identity and representation established through the photographic image, examining both the abilities and the limitations of photography, to question the way the photographic image is received and interpreted as meaning. I'm particularly interested in the assumptions of truth and reality and the way photographs are often viewed as documents of something that was real.
Do you think generation Y has the belief that if a moment wasn't documented (photographed, filmed, etc) then it didn't happen? Do you think this is a good or bad mentality?
I don't think this is a new occurrence. Ever since photography has been available to the public it has been used to certify experience. I do think that the way photography is made, consumed and read is constantly changing. Good or bad I can't say but it is changing too fast for us to predict the consequences. I don't think generation Y have a belief that if something wasn't documented it didn't happen but I do think they feel a desire for affirmation and approval. Photography is a tool in that pursuit.
For Animation 1 from the series Hereinbefore for the iD Digital Portraiture Award you sat in front of a camera remembering hurtful schoolyard memories to evoke dramatic and honest emotions. Could you share any of those memories with us?
For me, school photos represent more than just our school experiences. They become a document of our growth and journey into adulthood and come to symbolise those years of our life. Our school years can be amazing years of self-discovery but are also loaded with pressures and challenges. The difficulties we all experience during these years are individual and personal. If I disclose my own memories then I risk the work becoming too specific, I prefer leaving it open for people to project their own memories and experiences.
Can you tell us about your time at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art? Has your time there influenced your work?
I really enjoyed having dedicated time and space to work (so different from my normal life!). The entire PICA team were very supportive and I was surprised at how encouraging I found it to work in the gallery environment. The residency wasn’t just an opportunity to focus on my work, it was a fantastic chance to explore and experiment in a new environment.
What does it mean for you as an emerging artist to receive exposure during the Biennale of Sydney?
The Biennale of Sydney always injects a huge amount of excitement and activity into the Sydney art scene and I hope that having my work shown during this time will mean it is seen by a wider audience.
Why do you believe initiatives such as SafARI are important?
SafARI offers an incredible opportunity for emerging artists to gain exposure and experience. But more than that, initiatives like SafARI are fundamental to the continual evolution of art. By supporting artists in the early stages of their practice and encouraging fresh ideas and experimentation, initiatives like SafARI are essential.
Do you have any long term goals for yourself as an artist?
At this stage I'm taking it one step at a time.
By Allanah Jansons