Questions by Richard Leyder
Then, you meet Eric Kroll, and that's the beginning of the Digital Diary adventure...
Actually digital-diaries began as soon as i knew how to write. i religiously kept a diary all of my life. i used words, then words and images, now i use words, images, video and animations. Eric kroll noticed my work and introduced me to Taschen, when i was 19 or 20.
Who are your models in Digital Diary : lovers, friends, professional models?
there are no professional models in digital-diaries. i photograph moments that are important to me. usually this means my lovers, friends, and myself.
Are there « two » Natacha Merritt : the model and the photographer ? Do you sometimes loose control as a model and, at the same time, keep control as a
i'd like to think I'm always changing and evolving, through self documentation i am more free to evolve faster . i often feel empowered by my rich archive of memories, and fascinated with the ever changing perspectives i have of my own past. i don't "loose control" since i never try to remain in control. moments that require me to be in control don't usually interest me, so i don't photograph them.
Are you always sexually involved, even when you stand behind the camera ?
no. emotionally yes. sexually sometimes.
Are you trying to excite your models (male and female) ?
I'm trying to excite them mentally yes. to excite them by showing them facets of themselves they might not yet have seen. unless I'm shooting my boyfriend or girlfriends (at the time of digital-diaries) . its always real. i don't engage with any of my models sexually unless we already have a relationship.
Do you think the women you photograph are more audacious because you are a woman ?
i think that they trust that i wouldn't ask them to do anything i wouldn't do myself. i also think that they now i respect them and am shooting THEIR sensuality, not a vision i assume other men would masturbate to.
Do you control everything during the session or does it happens that a model go farther than you expected ?
i always enjoy the unexpected. control bores me.
How does it happen, the shooting : is it as fast as we can imagine, looking
at the images (the sensation of speed, like a machine gun) ?
its always different
You were twenty years old at the beginning of the Digital Diary adventure.
Nobody wants to believe me when I show your book and say that this is the work of a very young girl. Do you think that your « inexperience » was
important, as wrote Eric Kroll ?
You say you did these images because you wanted to know yourself. In a Socratean way ? In a psychoanalysis way ?
both. the more i now myself the more i understand myself. knowing that i'll never fully understand myself or the universe around me. i like building the universe around me actually....
You only use digital cameras. Because it's easy to use ? Is there a «philosophy » of the digital camera philosophy of the digital camera?
uhhhm i suppose you could dig up a philosophy in anything. i've only used digital cameras. they evolved as my skills evolved. i've worked with almost every digital camera ever made. at the time i stated everyone would always tell me i was a great photographer but if i dint switch to a "real" camera i could "never" be published.
of corse this narrow-minded view of photography was of no concern to me since. i loved the pixels, the imperfections, the color saturation. when i met Taschen he wasn't at all concerned with the low resolution issue. he smiled and told me not to worry about that and to keep shooting. digital-diaries was the first digital-photography book to be published.
Why is it so important for you to have your website ? Do you sometimes show your work in commercial galleries as prints ?
I am inventing the means do distribution of my work on digitalgirly.com. i like the idea of art being directly available to the fans. big reputable names are nice to work with but ultimately i think people can decide for themselves if an image has a value. i will always have a website because it is a store front that i own, where i can be myself. The WEB site will soon morph into a media player that will unite under a single interface all form of media related to my work (images, sounds, music, film, animation, writing, interactions, DVDs).
Since Digital Diary was published in 2000, I have the sensation that your work is getting « less porn » than before. Am I right ? Is that a new direction in your work ?
There is just more work then ever before, and yes i have been interested in much more of my surroundings that before. but i still documents all of my sex life.
There's something else, that was already in the Digital Diary images : it's the sensation of loneliness. I think for example about the image with the
clock (page 157 of Digital Diary) and the image with the glas of wine. It's as strong as the « fuck images »...
is loneliness a strength? i've found that fucking can be as mundane as as anything else if my hearts not in it... I'm not sure if this answers your question...
There is a sensation of zero gravity in your photographs. Could you tell us
a few words about your collaboration with « le Cirque du soleil » ?
That's funny, because before knowing that, I thought that your images could have been made by a trapezist or a funambulist. >>>
The challenge in my involvement with the Cirque Du Soleil was to convene to large projection surfaces, the sensual/erotic side of every member of the show cast and this in relation to each specific performance. It was a very demanding and complex challenge because I had to do this while always staying within the boundaries imposed by a puritan society. I have achieved this by adding subtle movements to my pictures before projecting them on stage.
Who are the photographers which work you like very much ? I think for example that you can find echoes in the work of John Coplans who, like you, but in a very different way, used to photograph parts of his body...
i like Pierre Molinier, walker Evans. but really i love painting much more.... i collect portraits from flea markets. those are the only things on my walls, other than hundreds of my own work.
Do you consider yourself as a feminist ? How do you find your place in a «tradition » of sex images that was very often written by men ?
feminist well maybe the next generation of feminists. they paved the road i suppose. it is very rare in history that a woman was able to be sexual AND strong. in the pst women new that they had to completely cover their sexuality otherwise men would've never let them approach equality.
its complicated really because often i feel like i would burst their illusions of women so much that it would be cruel. meaning they keep shooting a lie, the mainstream porn (aside of the amateur work that i respect) is usually such a sad reflection of our society. most men really think the girls aren't acting in those films of images. that they get breast implants because they want to, that they aren't starving themselves but are really that thin etc.... and then so many of these american boys wonder why their wives don't pinch their own nipples and beg for cum on their faces..... its sad because everyone gets hurt.. we can talk more about this on the phone.