Kentucky-born photographer Stacy Kranitz has traveled through America’s southeast, documenting the region and its people in order to confront and demystify stereotypes. Her new show, “From the Study on Post-Pubescent Manhood,” is open at LA’s Little Big Man Gallery from January 31 through March 14. Kranitz currently lives in LA.
Stacy Kranitz grew up in the heart of Appalachia – a largely rural swath of mountains running from New York to Alabama, and the origin of many backwoods stereotypes. Her photographs encounter these stereotypes, but do not accept or reject them. Instead, veering between shocking, idyllic and intimate, they document her relationship to people and place as she travels and lives among the fringe, the youth and the outsiders.
Her new show, “From the Study on Post-Pubescent Manhood” is full of boys – boys with their shirts off, boys lighting fires, boys drinking and smoking, boys free to do what they want when they want. She says in a statement on her work, “I think maybe if I have enough evidence that violence can function as an emotional release I can validate behavior that might at first glance seem unbecoming.”
“From the Study on Post-Pubescent Manhood” opens at LA’s Little Big Man Gallery on January 31 and runs through March 14.
Where are you from?
When did you start making art?
I bought my first camera when I was 16.
German filmmaker and actress (1902-2003), whose most widely known work is Nazi propaganda film “Triumph of the Will.” However compromised in message, aesthetically her films still stand up.
William T Vollman
California based writer, journalist, and war correspondent, Vollman is acclaimed for his 2005 novel “Europe Central,” which won a National Book Award for Fiction.
Known best as a film critic, James Agee (1909-1955) was also an author, journalist and screenwriter whose novel “A Death in the Family” won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize.
Who influenced you growing up and who influences you today?
I was deeply drawn to the documentary tradition from an early age. First I found Leni Riefenstahl. I read her autobiography when I was 15. There was something so fucked up and raw and brilliant in her darkness. Then I started reading books by William T Vollman and I became drawn to the intimacy he built with his subjects. But it wasn’t until I read James Agee’s “Let us Now Praise Famous Men” that I saw how unhinged, tender and poetic getting close to strangers could be.
I recently saw Larry Clark’s book, “The Perfect Childhood” and it blew my mind. I adore the writer Scott McClanahan, and I return again and again to the works of Walid Raad, Boris Mihklov, and Carrie Mae Weems.
How would you describe your style?
I make work that explores my subjective relationship to the people I photograph, resulting in photographs that are meant to implicate the photographer as well as the viewer.
I make work that acknowledges the failure of representation to ever be able to communicate the other.
I make work that engages in the nature of ambiguity by addressing the inherent flaws and ruptures in the documentary tradition.
How and when did you decide that this is what you were going to do?
In my adolescence, I felt incapable of escaping a desire to document things. For many years my work was a simplistic attempt to understand the human condition. Then I opened myself up to becoming undone by the process of getting to know the subjects of my photographs. I started building incredibly intimate relationships that caused me to renegotiate the very foundation of my understanding of this world we live in and the structure of my personal belief system. Now there is no turning back.
“As an artist I am allowed the room to
define my own ethical boundaries. As well as
change, challenge and let them evolve.
So I am an artist. ” — Stacy Kranitz
What’s your story of getting started as an artist?
I wanted to be a photojournalist. I tried to be one, but found something false in the ethical standards imposed on discipline. I looked for ways to rebel against the constructed boundaries of these principles. I stopped being interested in shedding light on something that was wrong or unjust, and instead became fascinated by the space between what we know as right and wrong. As an artist, I am allowed the room to define my own ethical boundaries. As well as change, challenge and let them evolve. So I am an artist.
How does it feel to have accomplished this body of work? What was the process like?
It feels good to show the work in a gallery, but I don’t see it as a finished body of work. The project began with the idea to gather visual evidence and prove that violence can function as an emotional release. I thought this would allow me to validate certain behavior that at first might seem unbecoming. But it didn’t quite add up right. So I started following people I photographed back to their homes, looking for something else entirely. The photographs became a point of departure for the building of intimate relationships with strangers through the moving image. But there are failures there as well. So I’ve begun to make and collect drawings. The process is the constant questioning of the process, and this allows me to move through different mediums and utilize a range of methodologies that I hope results in work that is provocative and engaging.
What’s your favorite book, film, and music right now?
Book – Michael Taussig’s “I Swear I Saw This: Drawings in Fieldwork Notebooks, Namely My Own”
Film – George Giottoes’ “The Miscreants of Taliwood”
Music – Ike and Tina Turner’s “Funkier than a Mosquito’s Tweeter”
What are your interests and passions outside of your art?
I press plants and flowers. I have four large presses. I always keep one in my car and when I get sad I drive around and find specimens on the side of the road.
How do you feel about the rising creative scene in LA?
I like the sense of community that exists amongst artists here.
What’s next for you?
I am preparing to go back to central Appalachia and live out of my car for four months, to continue making work that looks at the complicated history of representation in the region and our relationship to images of poverty. Then I will come back to Los Angeles and put the project together as a monograph with Little Big Man Books, to be published at the beginning of 2016.