Monday, January 31, 2011

Q&A with Ingrid Mida

Ingrid Mida and Lyla Rye

On Saturday afternoon, Lyla Rye moderated the Question and Answer session for loop member Ingrid Mida. Ingrid began the conversation with a brief overview of her series All is Vanity, describing the narrative and sequence of her photographs presenting the journey of grief.

Some of the questions Lyla asked Ingrid during their conversation included the following:

What does All is Vanity mean?
Vanitus Vanitum, or All is Vanity,  is a biblical warning against pursuing earthly accomplishments and pleasures in the face of certain death. While other artists have typically used the still life genre of painting to portray this in their work, I used it to inspire this series of photographic works to portray the journey of grief.

How does Versailles fit into the series?
My interests in the 18th century drew me to reference Versailles because it represents a place of opulence, extravagance and vanity. It is beautiful but it also is a place where very sad events occurred.

Why did you use yourself as a model?
Lyla, you were the one who encouraged me to be more personal with my work and this is about as personal as it gets. I initially approached this as an experiment and wasn't really sure whether it would work out. And I have to admit I was pretty apprehensive about being in the photos and how people (including my family) would react to that. In most of the images, I blurred my face or am looking away. I also should give credit to Cindy Sherman's work. I read an interview with her in the London Times in which she said that her photos were self portraits but not about her. I feel that way about these works.

Why did you chose this dress?
I acquired four dresses from Opera Atelier during their costume sale in the spring. I wasn't really sure how I would use them but thought that they might become an interesting part of an art installation. This dress was the most opulent and extravagant and best fit the theme of this series.

Why are the images black and white even though they are digital images?
I wanted the photos to have a haunting and mystical quality. Making them black and white helped achieve that I think. The black and white presentation makes it less about the dress and more about the mood. 

What aspect of fashion are you inspired by?
I am interested in how clothes can embody memory and identity. In particular, clothes give clues about a person's identity and self image even if they are not aware of it. (To hear more about this topic, watch the clip filmed at the q&a here.)

Do you see this work taking any other form like a book?
The response to this series has made me wonder if the photographs could be turned into a book. People who have seen the work have mentioned that the journey of grief is so rarely presented in art work and I feel that it is an important message that I am conveying here. Someone said it was like seeing the book "The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion as an artwork. 

Since this work is about grief and mourning, if you had to dedicate it to one person, who would it be?
I've grieved the loss of my father, my brother Peter, my sister-in-law Carrie, my father-in-law and friends including Brian, Joe, and Diana. If I had to dedicate this work to one person, it would be my brother Peter Masak, who died in a glider accident in 2004. It was the phone call that I received about his plane going down that I think of when I look at the image "Oft Shall Death and Sorrow Reign". It was a phone call I never expected to get given that my brother was a talented pilot. My life changed in that instant and while it was not the first loss I had experienced, it was the most shocking and unexpected loss. And since it was my brother Peter who taught me about working in the darkroom, coming back to photography with this series is deeply meaningful for me. 

To watch the Artsync tv interview that was filmed during Ingrid's opening reception, click the link here or

Ingrid Mida's exhibition All is Vanity continues at loop Gallery through to Sunday, February 13, 2011.