There is this fluidity surrounding me and I can sense it rising with each year, and while I try to bend with it, I tell myself that the now now now is what I want.
Grace Ann Leadbeater is an artist who would be thrilled to teach you some self-defense techniques. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Currently, she is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in writing at Columbia University. Grace Ann grew up in Central Florida and lives in Brooklyn, NY.
In Right This Very Second text you wrote “Often I find myself looking at things and thinking, “You are here, looking at this right this very second.” And then I feel the inclination to pull out my camera because I want to remember what that very second felt like. I know that one day I’m going to miss it so much”. Reading this precious thought and connecting it with the images that belong to the project you tried to register a memory of your emotions. What kind of memories, actions, smells are beyond the camera?
Everything is beyond the camera. While one can surmise what a photograph of blueberries smells like, only the photographer (and anyone else who was present) can describe the memory of it (which will always be slightly off), how the smell of dirt and sweat influenced the smell of the blueberries.
Right This Very Second was more about the process of making the photographs—what I was seeing and smelling and feeling and thinking. But the senses in those moments are not as sharp now. But I am OK with that. I mainly wanted to teach myself to be more present; I was not very concerned with the after.
Your portraits suggest a sentimental and rigorous world that reminds me to a Renaissance panorama. The Botticelli’s Venus and the Spring denote a noble and intimate vision of the woman in relationship with nature very close to your series, especially the Imbued one.
What is your vision about body in photography and which artistic movement could you define as a reference for your works?
I was twenty-two when I did the series Imbued. I was in a way making light of how women are tirelessly compared to things found in nature (e.g. a rosebush, a carnation, a daffodil, etc.). This happened to me and my sister often when we were children. And I always found it so funny. I remember after an older man told me that I had a mouth of a rose, I yelled, “I’m not a rose, I’m a human!”
The body in photography feels endless in its possibilities. With my work, I’m curious to see how people interact with their environments. Some people walk into a room and practically melt into a couch while others are more calculated, careful not to lean back too far or put their feet on the couch.
Regarding artistic movements, I constantly look to Impressionist and Expressionist works. I’m fairly obsessed with the painting “Maria” by Expressionist/Fauvist Kees van Dongen. The deep red and navy brushstrokes are mesmerizing; the unblended colors feel like letting go, challenging what is already known. I want to do more of that with my own work.
The Romantique nostalgia is emphasized by the textual part of your work. Like a private diary you try to create a poem through images.
Do you have some favourite lectures that inspire and influence you to new projects or single pictures?
The first poem I ever heard by Pablo Neruda was “If You Forget Me.” I was in high school. I was so shocked by its directness, its unrelenting descriptions. That last bit still follows me around, especially when I’m making photographs:
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.
It reminds me that everything is tangible.
Photography is for you a self-discovery tool. In which measure does the subject of your works manage to solve this question?
I used to think photography was a form of self-discovery. Maybe it is for some. But for me, it’s just a lot of revisiting.
Which are the first steps of a new project? How do you find the key to start and to keep going on?
I talk about my ideas for projects with close friends. Speaking these things into the world allows me to actualize them because it’s an act of letting go. Letting go of fear—the fear of expectation. But my expectation is always challenged, as the project never shapes up how I had imagined (sometimes for the better, other times for the worst).
Could you tell (or show) us about some of your last pictures or new unreleased series?
Right now I’m working on a photo series about pairs.
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