Questions from Emmanuelle Namont

ARTISTS: Anna Bogatin Ott and Martin Venezky

EN: How do you see how your works relate or are different from each other? Are there some similar concepts that you have been exploring?

ABO: “ It seems that Martin and I have a similar interest and ability to focus on and observe little elements on a very intimate level and finding within them a space that is vast and wondrous.

MV: We both break down normal visual information into carefully controlled bits, removing language ("that's a tree!", that's a river!", "that's a radio dial!") and replacing it with sensation.

EN: You are both creating images by extracting information from a tangible reality- natural elements for Anna - discarded "pieces" for Martin; you then use this "data" to build new "worlds"? What do these worlds represent for you? How would you describe them?

I am afraid words would fail me in this. It is our world, yet it is definitely the “other”. If one would spend some time quietly looking at my work, it could take them on a very exciting journey.

For me, it is all about the relationships between elements. Those relationships, which form organically, define the logic of these "worlds" or spaces...the pieces transform into a whole not by disappearing, but by harmonizing.

EN: How do you relate to the concept of abstraction in your works? How important is it to you?

ABO: Ironically, I think abstraction is the most precise form of expression. Work with a pictorial narrative is often confusing.

EN: What is your vision in your practice of the medium of photography? 

ABO: It is a medium, the same as paint. In painting or drawing I use only pen and brush. In creating photo-based work I use pretty much only one tool in Photoshop. I like simplicity in making my images. It might be that I also need the simplicity because it helps focusing on the subject matter.

MV: I've been involved with photography in one way or another all my life. My father was a wedding photographer and I grew up with a darkroom set up in our house. My background is in graphic design, and I used photography freely as I experimented with type and image. I developed my working method on my own and enjoyed the analog process of juxtaposing pictures alongside each other, especially when they were themselves abstracted forms. After I started down this path I felt validated and encouraged to find many younger photographers working in a similar way, and happy that this kind of work was beginning a dialogue forward, as well as harkening back to an earlier lineage of abstract and concrete photography.

EN:  Anna, you talk about the concept of "purity". How do you express it in your work?

ABO:  ...The concept of purity to me is about fidelity to the original source. There are laws of nature and some innate order for things to happen (buildings placed a certain way, trees grow a certain way, the way trash is collected on a street, the way a flower is opening up). I am a part of that process. I notice things and take photos of them. Later, creating my abstract images, I strive to preserve that initial response and the structure, or order of the universe.

EN: What keeps you going as an artist?

ABO: Being born an artist doesn’t always mean you will become one. The artistic sensibility often puts you at odds with society, friends, and family, but acknowledging and accepting yourself as an artist is an incredible journey. Art helped me to cope with many difficult situations in my life. Making art provides intellectual challenge and helps me grow as a person. It opens my eyes to the amazing diversity of our world. It brings meaning to my life.

MV: Because I veered onto this path later than many others, I feel every day is valuable and not to be wasted. There are so many things in my head, and so much material on hand to be photographed that I imagine myself in a race to get it all done and out in the world!

This virtual conversation was conducted correspondent-style; while the above does not represent the discussion in its entirety, the questions and answers are shown without alterations.