Clare Strand

As we enter the final week of buildup we turn our attention to some more of the artists that will be presenting at the festival. Clare Strand‘s images have been bouncing around our collective heads here at Night Contact for several years now. She blends a mix of deadpan humour and meticulous research to form something quite astonishing…

What role does humour play within your work? Is it a part of your interrogation, poking fun at photography’s limitations, or is this too simplistic an understanding? What reference points, both within art and culture more broadly, do you personally find funny? 

Recently, I was part of a judging panel. As the hours went by I inwardly congratulated myself on my constructive observations and the warm responses of my fellow judges. Towards the end of the day I went to the ladies room and saw in the mirror that I had a large and unsightly lump of chocolate stuck on my cheek which, I realised, must have attached itself to me during elevenses.  It is these unaccountable things that both make my heart sink and make me laugh. I try to encourage the humour of the everyday – the missed wave, the pratfall and public loss of dignity. Life is full of this absurdist stuff and it reminds that I/we are all equally fallible. We all have limitations. Nobody can control their world, not least through photography – and, for me, the more I attempt control, the more things get out of hand and the more chocolate I find on my face.

Skirt_waistband-labels_lg_1In the construction of your work you play the role of the absurd researcher, looking into oddities and coming to interesting conclusions. However that being said, I feel you are often quite invisible, due to the fact that the work is often condensed down to quite small, very precise actions. Please can you tell me a little about this? 

I like the idea of my art being like a ventriloquist’s dummy with the voice being thrown from back stage, behind the curtain. It suits me to be invisible. However, in the trajectory of a career, there are always new areas to explore or to re-find or to loose. What is important one day can be unimportant the next. Perhaps in time other elements to my practice will start appearing. I’m not, I hope, done yet.

For someone whose practice is so rooted in exploring the habits of the medium, what does it mean to show video or present sculpture?

I have always thought of myself within a photographic context.  For me it’s important that I carry my ideas into the form and outcome that feels right. I see photography as being like an elasticated waistband. It can and should expand and adapt to accommodate different forms but can just as well ping right back to its original shape. Neither fitting is particularly right or wrong – just different comfort levels for the wearer.