Haters Gonna Hate: A Short Interview With Sandy Kim

Sandy Kim is a rambunctious wild child and her camera may as well be a Molotov cocktail. With a they-love-to-hate-us-because-they-ain’t-us attitude, Kim shoots her friends and lovers with a semen-soaked, blood-stained abandon. Indeed, her work is a neon-hued punk diary of her life that is at turns exhibitionistic, voyeuristic and always hedonistic. Kim is not alone in her ilk that includes a brood of gritty and provocative documentarians, like Nan Goldin or Ryan McGinley. However, Kim’s work belongs to a different age – a desensitized, digitized age of youth-wave marauders; a progeny not high on Reagan-era mountains of cocaine, but on Obama’s 5-Hour Energy and Ritalin-induced angst. Tonight, Evergold Gallery in San Francisco is presenting How’s The Weather Down There? – Kim’s third solo show with the gallery. The exhibition will include large-scale photographs that scream even louder her declaration of sexual freedom and youthful independence. Autre was lucky enough to catch up with Kim to ask her a few quick questions.

AUTRE: How did you discover the artistic side of yourself?

SANDY KIM: Ever since I was child I was always drawing constantly, my parents were always busy working at their restaurant so I would sit in a booth and draw the time away.

AUTRE: Who were some of your earliest artistic or photographic influences?  

KIM: William Eggleston and Dash Snow.

AUTRE: Can you remember the first thing you ever photographed? 

KIM: I think the first photograph I ever took was of a building as an assignment in my first black and white photo class in high school. I played with the angles and composition to make an abstract image that was hard to tell whether it was a building on a close up object. 

AUTRE: Your work features a lot of bodily fluids…blood, semen, etc…. what was the craziest response that you have ever gotten to your work? 

KIM: Just check out all the anonymous comments left on my "Wait" music video for DIIV. People be passionately hating, but other than the anonymous comment leavers, my friends or likeminded people don't seem to be phased by my work.  

Sandy Kim, Untitled, 2015. Digital archival photograph. 30x45 in. Edition of 2. Courtesy of the artist and Ever Gold Gallery

AUTRE: You are featured in a lot of big publications and photographers, like Ryan McGinley recognize your work – did you expect this big of a response? 

KIM: No…because when I first started taking pictures it was strictly for myself so I wasn't concerned with what other people thought.  

AUTRE: Do you think before you shoot…is there ever a consistent thought process when you look through the viewfinder…or do you just shoot away? 

KIM: Well, yes I always think before I shoot, but it's seldom about what I'm about to shoot [laughs]. 99% of the time I just shoot away, but there must be a thought process, even if it's a subconscious one, because my photos always have a certain style that's easy to recognize 

AUTRE: As a photographer…can you describe the ideal moment…the ideal time to have your camera on hand? 

KIM: Whenever I happen to forget my camera something unreal happens

AUTRE: What’s your greatest fear as a photographer? 

KIM: Running out of film at a crucial moment in time or during a shoot. Sometimes I'll just pretend to keep shooting.

AUTRE: Is there anyone that you dream of shooting…alive or dead? 

KIM: Rihanna  

AUTRE: What can we expect at your new show…How’s The Weather Down There…at Ever Gold gallery? 

KIM: A trip into my world    

Sandy Kim's solo exhibition 'How’s The Weather Down There' opens tonight and runs until April 18th, 2015 at Ever Gold Gallery, 441 O'Farrell St, San Francisco. See a preview of the show in the slideshow below. Text and interview by Oliver Maxwell Kupper

Ciao LA: An Interview with Brandy Eve Allen

Brandy Eve Allen's Ciao LA is an amazing, intense photographic diary of her life during a self imposed expatriation in Italy. At the age of 21, tired of her life Los Angeles, Allen got on a plane bound for Torino, Italy (a place she'd never been before) and created a life for herself - photographing and documenting all along the way. At one point, as she describes in the below interview, Allen was is Paris and got a chance to photograph the poster for legendary director Bernardo Bertolucci's 2003 film The Dreamers starring Michael Pitt.  When she was 27 Allen moved back to LA and pieced everything together to create Ciao LA which she describes as “a memoir of a young girl on a journey through language, love, culture, art and the ways it fucks with the heart.” Allen's photographs in Ciao LA are raw and wrought with paroxysms of emotional ardor that are touching reminders of both life's beauty and fragility. Right now Allen is trying to get Ciao LA published and is having a solo show in Torino, Italy - she is also "trying to get the fuck out of LA again."

PAS UN AUTRE: You shot the poster for the great Italian director Berolucci's Dreamers - can you talk a little bit about that?

BRANDY EVE ALLEN: I'm was living in Italy and at 22 years old traveled to Paris and walked into the world of The Dreamers to photograph the actors for the poster. They were shooting the film at the time so I was fortunate to be on set and see how Bernardo Bertolucci creates an atmosphere. It fed me with inspiration and each actor brought their own essence for me to capture uninhibited. They're vulnerability made it that much easier for me to work with. Before beginning to photograph Michael Pitt, I felt like I needed to earn his trust and was up to the task. In doing so, I borrowed his guitar and started playing a little Pixies song I knew, from there he gave himself freely. Bernardo is so hyper aware of the youth around him and he engages you with only a glance. He did just that as I was sitting down, rolling a cigarette, he looks at me with an expression as if he knows, like I'm rolling a joint or something, but not this time, it was just tobacco. I remember laying on the bed to show each actor how to position they're bodies until we had this beautiful overlapping of figures and this ended up being the shot they chose for the poster. There was another photograph that they almost used that was my favorite which was taken really spontaneously when we were just hanging out between shots. (I attached that photo to this email)

AUTRE: You were in Italy for quite sometime and the moved back to LA - those experiences were a big influence for your new book - can you talk a little about Ciao LA?

ALLEN: CIAO L.A. is a photographic memoir of the three years I spent living in Italy and how it affected me both as a young woman and as an artist. I came to live in Italy after spending some years in LA, a city that I've always battled with, in search of something that would remind me of why I'm here on this earth. The beauty, the culture, the incredible people I came to know and love... and hate, how each of those experiences and the shit going on in my mind gave me so much to put down on paper and in a photograph. Even in a foreign country I could only get away for so long and then I ended up right back with myself. It not only was an honest account of my relationships during that time but also a dialogue about making art and trying to put it out there, the rejection, the recognition, the moments of pure satisfaction from creating something true and failing to do so. The coming of age challenges faced by young women in their late teens and twenties is relatively unexplored territory in modern literature, and I'm hoping to help fill that void with CIAO LA.

AUTRE: What specifically brought you to photography? Can you remember the first image you ever took? Major inspirations?

ALLEN: I've always been creative whether it was with music, painting, dance, video but it wasn't until I was 18 that I started to take photography seriously. I remember the exact time it really went down, my friend and muse, Samantha asked me to take some shots of her for a portfolio and I borrowed my friend's nikon and we took a couple rolls. I brought the film to Michel Karmen, a master printer and friend of mine who worked at A&I to develop the film. Once seeing the images, he encouraged me to continue and began letting me borrow books of great photographers to learn and be inspired by. Photographers such as Francesca Woodman, Sally Mann, Nan Goldin and Keith Carter. I felt like shooting what I knew best was a natural place to begin and turned the camera inside. I didn't want to show what things looked like, I wanted to show what they felt like. Just like the experiences are deep for me which each image, so is the process, so I use film. I need to use my hands and really get dirty with it, I like chemicals, I like playing with light and science. Photography is really intuitive for me.

AUTRE: Whats next?

ALLEN: Getting the fuck out of LA again....But seriously – I'm hoping to get CIAO LA published and about to have a solo show in Venice, Italy of my recent infrared series that I've been working on for the past couple years. Inspiration is never short and I'm continuing to finish and begin different photo projects that I'm really excited about. I'll be photographing at the end of the month to finish this one series called SONG OF SONGS, where I photograph nude women in different positions and then draw in what they're wearing and the different scenarios around them with pencil. A sample from that series was just featured in a show at Kana Manglapus Gallery in Venice, CA. But most importantly, what's next is me just trying to stay focused on what matters and not let my head get caught up in the bullshit.

See more from CIAO LA and check out more photography on Brandy Eve Allen's website. Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre.