Empty Stretch: Age/ location/ favorite things in life?
Trevor Powers: I am 26 years old and I currently live in Boston, Massachusetts. I don’t know if I can name my favorite things in life without over thinking it or making obvious choices like pizza, sleep, coffee, and pictures – but I guess its as simple as exploring a new place and warm weather.
ES: How did you get into photography?
TP: Photo albums were always as big thing in my family growing up. Most of the pictures were not technically good, but it wasn’t about their quality as much as it was about remembering and owning a document of someone’s birthday, or our new kitten, regardless if my dad was in background drinking a Budweiser and smoking a cigarette while holding a baby. I started taking it seriously in high school when I realized I wasn’t very good at drawing or painting, but still had an overwhelming desire to create. Photography was easy, almost immediately rewarding, and a provided a tangible memory. This was a format that I was familiar with, and started to see it in a new light when I learned how to make my own prints in the darkroom.
ES: You are a curator as well as photographer, how do you keep a distance between the two? Do you find yourself most drawn to work you would make?
TP: The shows I have curated, events I have organized, and zines I have made are all things that I would want to see and participate in. Naturally, I am most drawn to work that I wish I made, or work that makes me feel something I wish I could make people feel with my art. I believe that it’s important to make things happen for yourself because very rarely are opportunities just handed to you. When I first started proposing shows, it was because I wanted to show my work somewhere and I knew other, very talented people who were not getting the recognition they deserved, and thought: hey, why don’t we just show together, wherever we can? The act of installing and working together with other artists and likeminded people on a show was sort of the art itself. As things progressed, and I started to meet more and more artists, I began to want to give a venue for these people to show and share their work. It is hard to keep a distance, because I want to show my work just as badly as everyone else, but I am trying. I am not entirely sure I am even a “curator” as much as I am a patron of the arts who organizes shows and events.
ES: What for you is your favorite way for work to be viewed; ie zine, wall, public, etc?
TP: I think it truly depends on the kind of work being viewed. I am in love with the zine and book formats and I think they are an imperative way of looking at and preserving art, and are very much their own art form. For the most part, though, I think my favorite art experiences and viewing interactions have been in apartment or alternative gallery spaces where the work isn’t so precious, and the feeling or urgency for the act of creating, showing and sharing are earnest and present.
ES: What is your working method?
TP: I mostly shoot large format, but am drawn to image making whatever way possible be it 35mm or cell phone camera, I really enjoy the act of taking pictures. What I like about 4×5 is what most people who shoot large format will say: it slows you down and forces you to look more carefully and edit more carefully before taking a picture. That being said, I have worked a few different ways. In the project SLEEP THE CLOCK AROUND, I was looking to create a document of a time and make images that resonated with the experiences I has having and life I was living at the time. This mode of working was atypical for me, so I would say that all of those images are definitely scripted.
SEE AMERICA RIGHT is wholeheartedly about movement and exploration for the sake of understanding the country in which I live. When I travel to make these photographs, I have very loose ideas of the kinds of images I want to make. I give myself limitations, like location and distance, but that’s usually it. Given those basic limitations, it’s a lot about finding out what interests me once I get there and letting the images come fluidly.
These two projects are good examples of movement versus monotony in my work, but at the same time I feel as if they balance each other nicely. While I am in Boston, I tend to make autobiographical work that includes portraits and more personal glimpse into my daily life. While on the road I don’t ever make portraits – I am more interested in documenting the land, the light and the visual vernacular of a place.
ES: What is your favorite city to photograph?
TP: Though I have only been there once and that was for three days, there was something about Los Angeles that really intrigued me. It was the light and the weather, I think. There is a lot of visual history there, in addition to this feeling of layers and layers of dirt, grime and smog. At the same time, there is also this sense of intense beauty and the unknown, the romanticism of the West. Then again, my time there was so extremely limited that I could very well be making up this feeling. And if that were the case, I would change my answer to New York City because that place is so dense and chaotic that you can get away with photographing anything and anyone without having to worry about a thing.
ES: What would be your death row last meal?
TP: I have to say I would want something that reminds me of a better time and place. Probably some meal we used to have as a family when I was kid that I don’t remember now and it would take me being on death row to remember again.