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An Excuse To Stare

Andy Mattern "Empty Building" - www.andymattern.com

“Photography allows a unique way to be in the world. It’s an excuse to stare and examine things closely. Also, it slows down time and offers a break from the rush of daily activity.”

Andy Mattern

Andy Mattern. Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico (USA), Andy Mattern is a contemporary photographer. He holds a BFA in photography from University of New Mexico and a MFA from University of Minnesota. Andy Mattern is represented by Stephen Clark Gallery, Austin, Texas.

Artist statement

“Using place and everyday objects as inspiration, my projects often take the form of typological series that focus on residual forms found in urban landscapes and consumer products. Specifically, I am interested in forms that emerge as byproducts of other systems or activities without design or intentionality.”

Interview with Andy Mattern

Andy, what was your first camera and photographic experience?

When I was in high school, my grandfather gave me a Rolleiflex. I fell in love with the detail and the format of this old camera and it became an obsession.

Why did you become a photographer?

Photography was always in my family, starting with my grandfather and then passed on to my step-father and brother. I became curious about traditional photography and eventually built my own small darkroom. The process of translating the world into a 2D image was mesmerizing.

What does photography mean to you?

Photography allows a unique way to be in the world. It’s an excuse to stare and examine things closely. Also, it slows down time and offers a break from the rush of daily activity.

Which photographer has inspired you most and why?

Bernd and Hilla Becher are key to my understanding of how photography can be used. When I was in college I lost interest in popular notions of beauty such as the picturesque landscape and instead became committed to a more critical way of seeing. The Bechers introduced this idea of objective seeing. Yet what is so fascinating is even the “objective” is a construct. I love the contradictions and possibilities in that space.

Your favorite photography quote?

“I photograph to see what the world looks like in photographs.”

Garry Winogrand

How would you describe your photographic language?

Using place and everyday objects as inspiration, my projects often take the form of typological series that focus on residual forms found in urban landscapes and consumer products. Specifically, I am interested in forms that emerge as byproducts of other systems or activities without design or intentionality.

What photography book would you recommend?

There are two photography books I’d recommend: “The Last Years of Walker Evans: A First-Hand Account” by Jerry L. Thompson and “The Pleasures of Good Photographs” by Gerry Badger.

Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?

Be an assistant first. You will learn a lot.

More about Andy Mattern

Website

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