One on One: Amanda Adam Louis & Katy Diamond Hamer

Performance, LaFotographeuse, 2008

Amanda Adam Louis and I decided to sit down this past Friday and interview each other. We are both involved in Lyle Ashton Harris’ performance based class at N.Y.U. and decided collectively that it might be interesting to appropriate questions from a 1978 interview that was originally in FlashArt (n. 80-81) and took place between interviewer Helena Kontova and Ulay & Marina Abramovic. The following three questions are respectively numbers 2., 5., and 6. from a eight question interview. Enjoy!

2) Do you think of your life as a work of art? (Helena Kontova)

LaFotographeuse: Yes, I do. I think that life itself is a work of art we are all products of “god’s” (Allah, Jah, higher power’s) hand+mind=creativity.

Katy Alonza Hamer: Agreed! I feel fortunate to be able to see things the way that I do. I believe that as creative people the world emerges in triads of color, composition and waves of movement. Living in New York, and surrounded by media culture we are consistently reminded of death elements as well as those living on the streets and less fortunate. I often look down before looking up.

“Le Lacrime”, multiple self portraits, acrylic on canvas, 2006, Katy Alonza Hamer

5) Is there some kind of philosophy behind your art?

k.a.h.: I think about philosophy often. As an undergraduate student I read books by Sartre and Nietzsche. The readings were difficult to comprehend but I used the words and the painting process to decipher what I wanted to communicate in response. Last year a excerpt from John Paul Sartre’s Orphie Noire (Black Orpheus, 1948) greatly influenced the making of my painting of curator Simon Njami. Since then I have read more and find that not only do the writings of the past influence my work, but I can subtract the commonality between artists and those who write about art and the world.

l.f.: There is a philosophy behind the way I approach creating my art. I am a visual griot. I inform and entertain my audience. I narrate my community through social, cultural events. Together my images of
moments at a given event form a story about the people, place and things that transpired. In my photographic process there really isn’t, I portray the reality I see before me with better lighting. But, there is a common theme that motivates my work and desire document the environments that I do. ” The social realm of our lives are a window into our personalities, prejudices, dreams, in other words our souls. The people that we elect to interact with have a profound affect on who we are and how we are. I am interested in catching the individual interaction and mass communication that occurs during social events.

k.a.h.: I agree here as well! The interactions that I’ve had with subjects I then portray in paintings have influenced not only perceptions of myself but also the way I imagine others to be.

Rwandan ambassador @ Uganda House, NYC La Fotographeuse, 2008

6) Do you think activities where you deliberately expose yourself to
difficult situations can change our cultural feelings and observations?

l.f.: Yes I do. During high school, I attended a boarding school with 300 other adolescents from 45 different countries. I choose to go to this particular institution and while the experience was wonderful it was chock full of difficult situations: Four girls from four different countries and cultural backgrounds living together is an interesting situation to say the least! , Yet these experiences have not only shaped my cultural sensibilities and powers of observation but enabled me to traverse Europe and learn a third language.My desire to create images (read-seriously) arose when I was 14 during my first year of highschool, when I began to realize the difficult situation that I had gotten myself into. For me imagery became a way to simultaneously depart from and document reality; it is my vessel to display my cultural feelings and observations.

k.a.h.: Wow Amanda, I can imagine how difficult and yet rewarding it must have been to attend boarding school in a foreign country! Interestingly enough, I also feel that my experiences and time spent abroad have impacted the way I make art and the translation of imagery into two-dimensional space. Often while abroad I feel like a chameleon. I don’t necessarily feel “American” yet am aware of my presence as a foreigner walking on paved space much older then that of America. The imposed nostalgia of being in a foreign country (for me particularly Italy) tends to overwhelm my being and in some way reminds me of what I am and should be. Even in situations where I am “Lost in Translation” (Hong Kong!) I find that I am still content to be in those places and to be lost. The sense of detachment yet involvement (art exhibitions in squats, dinners with Italian friends in the countryside) is the instrument I play when making a work of art. The visual art compositions should lend themselves to music.

“Untitled (Simon Njami)”, 2007, Acrylic on linen, 3ft. x 5ft, Katy Hamer