Mental Images, an interview with Lauren Taubenfeld

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– image Lauren Taubenfeld


Mental Images opens this Thursday at the ICP-Bard MFA Studios in Long Island City. In the run up to the exhibition I sat down with Lauren to learn a little about her and her work.

ewai: Can you tell me a little about your background?

Lauren Taubenfeld: I was born in Miami, Florida in 1991 and was raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I earned my BFA in photography from Parsons the New School for Design and am currently working on finishing my MFA in advanced photography at ICP-Bard.

e: When did you first get interested in art and photography, and why?

LT: I first became interested in art and photography when I was around 16 years old. I started taking black and white photo darkroom classes over the weekends while in high school. I quickly became enamored with all facets of photography as an art form and began working on my own unique projects when I went to art school in 2010.


– image Lauren Taubenfeld


e: Why do you make work now? What does it mean to you to make work?

LT: I make work now because it I feel it is what I was meant to do. The love that I have for art and photography is irrevocable. It is a means for me to work through different issues, create stories and narratives, and continue to challenge myself.

e: What are some of the main concepts you explore through your work?

LT: My work explores different subjects such as personal or intimate relationships, the domestic stage, mental health, dysfunctional relationships, and different kinds of phenomena. When I first started making work I was searching to learn about what it meant to be nomadic and not have a fixed home – I would call this anti-domestic work. Later on I began extracting from my own personal experiences with family and loved ones, depicting different kinds of relationships one would consider dysfunctional. My brother and I both suffer from mental illness and I make a lot of work about how that manifests.

e: Can you tell me about your process?

LT: My process may vary from project to project but mostly I begin with an idea and then begin planning what I’m going to shoot. As much as I may plan, I usually end up with something that is visually different from what I imagined and sometimes go with it. Other times, I begin shooting endlessly and the idea comes to me later after looking through my images. Because I shoot excessively a lot of the pictures end up in my archive. My work deals a lot with the present and the past so being able to pull from an archive really works to my advantage.

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– image Lauren Taubenfeld


e: Who are you looking at artistically? Who or what inspires you?

LT: Some artists I usually go to for inspiration include Larry Sultan, Richard Billngham, Graham Macindoe, Justine Kurland, Alec Soth, Carmen Winant, Joanna Piotrowska, Sam Contis and Mathew Connors among many others. I also draw inspiration from personal experiences.

e: Tell me about the work you have chosen to show in Mental Images. How did you choose it and why?

LT: The work in this exhibition has taken shape over the course of ten years, in collaboration with my younger brother and various other family members. It stretches from my home, to deserts in the South West and finds roots in the Jewish Diaspora with pictures from Israel. It draws from personal experiences and trauma. In this body of work, the past and present fuse by using an ever-growing archive of old and new images.

e: What have you learned in preparing for this show, and what is next for the work?

LT: This show means a lot to me because it is my first solo show and the first show in which I have full control over the way I exhibit my work and curate the space. I have definitely learned a lot about editing, sequencing, taking time, and the importance of utilizing my archive. I like to play with the idea that photography cannot tell us everything and is sometimes very much up for interpretation, therefore I leave some things out intentionally. I tried to make it so that the viewer really has to spend time with the work to understand it in more than one way. I’ve heard quite a few people say that they compare looking at my work to reading a mystery novel. I want to continue photographing one specific aspect of the project which I have just begun to explore and further the narrative. I also plan on publishing a book including this work along with new images and text.

Mental Images

ICP-Bard MFA 2019 Solo Thesis Exhibition Opening: Lauren Taubenfeld

Opening reception: February 21, 2019 (6pm – 9pm)

On view: February 22-24, by appointment. Contact:

ICP-Bard MFA Studio

24-20 Jackson Ave, 3rd Flr, Long Island City, 11101


in the dirt by Michael McFadden

in the dirt by Michael McFadden 


Solo Final Exhibition Opening February 14, 2019 6-9PM

ICP-Bard MFA Programs is proud to present in the dirt, Michael McFadden’s first solo exhibition in New York. The Work presented explores the relationship between death and photography and accentuates a longing for what is no longer present. As Roland Barthes states, “The other is in a condition of perpetual departure, of journeying.  …An Always present I is constituted only by confrontation with an always absent you. Focusing on the overlap between internalized shame and identify affirmation, McFadden’s work pivots from his family to his lovers. A wall collage explores the impact of his recently departed father and grandfather: a memento mori of one sort in juxtaposition to the la petite mort of his sexually explicit photographs.

McFadden draws from family albums and vintage gay pornography, vernaculars inherited from his biological and chosen families, the foundation to his visual iconography.  He interweaves photographs, sculpture, text, and video to examine the inner workings and the visceral charges of sexual connection, as they manifest in the context of his everyday life. in the dirt explores the artist’s journey into the intersecting space of sex and protest within a post-PrRP environment.

Michael McFadden (Chicago, IL) worked within the social services and community health centers for over 15 years, focusing primarily on LGBTQ health and the provision of HIV/AIDS services. He brings this awareness and process into his photographic work. Michael received his BA and MSW from Loyola University Chicago and currently lives in NYC.

On view from February 14-17, 2019 12-6PM or by appointment.

In conversation with Matthew Papa on Saturday, February 16 from 330-5PM

Contact Michael at, @michaelmcfaddenphotography, and @mcfaddenphoto.


3-part studio interview with Michael talking about his in the dirt exhibition, his inspirations, and his ICP-Bard MFA program experience. Enjoy.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3




The Rest is Memory, an interview with Pippa Hetherington

On the eve of her solo show, The Rest is Memory, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Pippa Hetherington (b. 1971) to talk about her work, her influences and the curation of this exhibition.

Photo by Michael McFadden

Ronnie Yang:  Can you tell us a bit about yourself personally and artistically?

Pippa Hetherington:  Prior to coming to New York, I was working as a photojournalist and communications specialist with a focus on human rights based in Cape Town, South Africa.

RY:  How did you decide on the ICP-Bard MFA program?

PH:  I was at a crossroads in my life and started questioning my own career, in particular, what it was about photography I was really drawn to.  I had originally enrolled in a Masters of Documentary Arts program in Cape Town, but while coming through New York during my travels, I found out about the ICP-Bard program and felt it was much more aligned to what I was searching for.

RY:  Tell us about the title of the show, The Rest is Memoryand its significance?

PH:  The title is taken from the last line of the poem, Nostos by the American poet Louise Gluck.  The word Nostos originates from Greek literature about an epic hero returning home by sea and about retaining his identity upon arrival.  The homecoming and identity element of Nostos is what resonates with me, not so much the heroism.

Living a dual life as a mother, wife and photojournalist in South Africa and then becoming an art student in New York, has been like living in a parallel universe.  It’s been very important to retain my identity throughout this experience, as well as, questioning what my role in the world is. 

RY:  What informs your work?

PH:  My work deals a lot with memory and remembrance, heritage and history, and identity.  Memory is such an interesting phenomenon.  What happens between the time you experience something to the time it becomes a memory is a bit like the process of making a photograph.  We all remember things differently; we all see things differently.

Photo by Pippa Hetherington

RY:  Could you talk a little bit about your processes?

PH:   I’m deeply in my element when I’m out in the field shooting, as in out of the studio. But I have equally started enjoying working with my hands in the studio.  When I am shooting, I wait until I feel connected to what I’m shooting.  Then something is ignited.  There is something ancient about the experience and there is something newly born about the experience, something I lose myself in.  It is when these two states collide that I know something has happened enough for me to take back to the studio to work with.  Recently I have been embroidering into my work.  It brings me into a present space; it gives me gravity.

RY:  Could you tell us about your background as a journalist and how that influences your work?

PH:  I guess my journalism stems from being fascinated by other people’s stories.  I love the stories behind the portraits.  I love the stories embedded into the landscapes.

Prior to the program, my work would rely heavily on text to narrate the image. What I’ve done since coming here is to try and let the image speak for itself.  I can tell the stories, but I would prefer that people connect with the image for their own reasons, not because I am telling them how to connect.

RY:  How does your work fit into a larger cultural and political context?

PH:  My work doesn’t overtly tackle politics, but I don’t pretend politics haven’t shaped what I live with, my existence.  Referencing of apartheid will happen either by me, the audience or the nature of the photograph.  It’s impossible to disentangle myself from our country’s history.  It is not intentional.  I just simply can’t extract myself, I’m part of it.  So, it’s not just about my own loss, but also coming from a country where there has been a tremendous amount of suffering and coping with that loss.  

RY:  Home and homeland manifest itself in your work.  How has your experience in New York influenced your work?

PH:  Distance and travel give you perspective.  South African history is very violent and fractured.  But it’s been a fascinating time to be in the States. I’ve been aware of the toxic climate here and people’s pain has been visceral and acute.  It puts perspective on the complexities at home and makes me aware that there are difficulties everywhere.  It has allowed me to appreciate the role of human rights even more.

Photo by Pippa Hetherington

RY:  What about the textile pieces?  What drew you to making these?

PH:  During this program, we are encouraged to look at different materials and the choices we make around these materials.  I had to question why I worked with fabric.  I have been heavily influenced by a group of Xhosa matriarchs from a remote rural village in the Eastern Cape in South Africa.  These women are embroiderers, story tellers and work with their hands.  My work with them and hearing their stories compelled me to want to work with my hands in a way that made me feel close to them.

I also work with thread and fabric to connect myself materially to those I’ve lost, bonding me to past and present.

RY:  Is this related to the fabric pieces regarding family?

PH:  For example, one of the pieces is a glass box with a photograph of my father I took a few weeks before he died.  He is wearing a quilt over his knees made from fabric that I printed of some of my photographs of trees.  It was only when we questioned the use of materiality that I made the connection.  I remembered the quilt I made for my dad and the photo.

RY:  How do you want your work to develop?

PH:  It’s often been said that a photograph is a death.  I like to believe that a photograph is the beginning of something. It is an untold story.  Instead of seeing it as a death, I’d rather see it as a foretelling of something to come and stories we don’t know yet.  I am also very excited about continuing my work with fabric and embroidery.  I think it is another way of telling a story without words.

RY:  This is a very thoughtful and cohesive body of work.  It is a wonderful curation of images and pieces that epitomize you and your touchstones.

PH:  Thank you

Photo by Pippa Hetherington

Pippa Hetherington’s show – The Rest is Memory is on view from February 8-10, 12-6pm or by appointment at the ICP-Bard MFA studios in Long Island City

Opening Reception: Thursday, February 7, 6-9pm

24-20 Jackson Avenue – 3rdFloor, Long Island City, NY