I first noticed Jason Demarte’s work when I was perusing the projects from Review Santa Fe online last week, and I subsequently became enthralled with his photographic constructions; they just seem rather timely and appealing. I love the mix of design and photo elements, and especially the use of animals. They’re at once light and heavy. It turns out Jason was originally a scientist, but is now photographing and teaching full-time. He answered some of my questions about the work, and about Santa Fe.
What was your experience at Review Santa Fe; Did you make any good
connections? See any intriguing work?
Review Santa Fe was fantastic! I met so many great people. Having the
opportunity to sit down with people like Melissa Harris from Aperture
and prominent gallery directors like Michael Mazzeo and Stephen Bulger
was invaluable. This was my first portfolio review, and while talking
about your work for three days straight can be exhausting, it was also
invigorating. I saw so much great work; Sarah Small’s Delirium
Constructions were inspiring, and Erik Boker’s Product Dissections were
Forage, 2007 from Utopic
Tell me about Utopic; aside from being very visually compelling, the
series uses a lot of the same tropes, including pills, meat (and other
foods), pink dots and nature scenes. How does it all relate?
I’m combining images of fabricated and artificial flora and fauna with
commercially produced products such as processed food, domestic goods
and pharmaceutical products to look at how these seemingly unrelated
and absurd groupings begin to address attitudes and understandings of
the contemporary experience. I’m representing the natural world through
completely unnatural elements to speak metaphorically and symbolically
of our mental separation from what is “real”, and compare and contrast
this with the consumer world we surround ourselves with as a
consequence. Therefore, objects and dots all relate, in that they are
all objects of desire. The dot for me represents that desire in its
simplest symbolic form, a placeholder for whatever it may be that one
feels he needs to be happy.
How does your science background inform your work?
My work has always had scientific references and modes of display
embedded in it. I think my love of the natural sciences is as strong as
my love of art. I have always thought the two are very closely related.
Your series Restoring Memory seems quite similar to Utopic to me, if more
studied and grave. What was your intention with that series, and how
did the seemingly light-hearted in comparison Utopic come out of it?
That’s interesting; I never really thought about the two together, but
I can see how they might appear to be related. Restoring Memory was
more introspective than Utopic. I was investigating how memory shifts
according to the current environment one finds oneself in, and how
specific objects and symbols can trigger memory. The formal nature of
Utopic was definitely influenced by Restoring Memory. What I learned
from studying symbols had an effect on how I handled the material
visually, but conceptually I think they are very different.
What’s next for you? Looking for a book deal? Making new work? Any big shows in the hopper? Tell!
I am in a show at Chelsea Galleria in Miami opening June 14th and have
been working on an offshoot of Utopic that focuses more on domesticity.
I am not actively pursuing any book deals but wouldn’t be upset if one
came knocking. Really, though, I am focusing on getting Utopic in more
venues and museums. Also, I just recently accepted an Assistant
Professor position to teach photography at the University of New
Mexico; so needless to say, I have been busy with moving.