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An Interview with Jason Gardner

Jason Gardner is and exhibiting artist in Imminent Existence, Photolucida‘s Critical Mass TOP 50 (2022). On view at the PCNW gallery March 30 – June 4, 2023. 

Jason Gardner (b. 1972, New York, NY; lives in Paris, France).

Chicken Man at the Courir, 2013

Archival pigment print; medium format film capture

Image 21 x 21 inches, framed to 24 x 24 inches

$600 (for purchase inquiry, please contact Erin at espencer@pcnw.org)

I’m wondering if the Critical Mass review process brought about any meaningful connections with one or more of the reviewers?  

Yes, I received many positive responses from the work, and I’m currently involved with a few conversations about developing / showing the work further both in editorial and fine art venues.

 

Please tell us about yourself and which part of the world you currently reside.

I divide my time between New York and Paris. I’m a photographer and documentarian, and for the past 15+ years I’ve been working on a long-term personal project about traditional Carnaval. I am passionate about music, culture, and ritual, and how they impact human expression. 

 

When did you first discover your love of photography?

In my mid-20s I quit my day job and traveled the world for two straight years, living out of my backpack, and taking photos with a point-and-shoot film camera, and came back after all of that and decided to pursue this as a career.

 

Please tell us about the individual piece that was selected to be included in this exhibition. Also, tell us a bit about the body of work that it is from.

My personal body of work started in the northeast state of Pernambuco in Brazil, and after many visits over 8 years, I published the book A Flower in the Mouth (Visual Anthropology Press, 2013).

The years I couldn’t go to Brazil, I started exploring Carnaval in other regions. I started with my own country, first I checked out Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but found myself soon drawn to exploring the country Carnaval in Cajun country, which was more rural, raw and cultural.

Regarding the image, Chicken Man at the Courir – In Cajun country Louisiana, everyone “masks” in the traditional Courir de Mardi Gras, when the masked revelers chase after a live chicken, seen here before its fateful release and inclusion in the gumbo that will be served to the community. In French “courir” means to run, so everyone runs after the chicken!

 

Is it your intention to have your artwork bring attention to any current social issues? 

Masks and costumes contribute to centuries-old traditions, connecting the people deeply to their roots while providing them a space to express themselves, to transcend and even rebel against their daily life and surroundings. 

 

Who / what are your biggest influences?

Portraiture of August Sanders. Photojournalism and surrealism of Cartier-Bresson. Cultural documentation by Luc Delahaye

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