The work takes its name from 19th century tableaux vivants, which staged living scenes suspended in time. But rather than freezing life into image, I pursue the impossibility of unfrozen life. Through collaborations with scientists, ecologists, growers, and other naturalists, I bring studio setups into the living environment. I engage the near absurdity of this process, and confront, through photographs, both ineffable subject and my own agency.
Referencing the contact-printed albums of Anna Atkins and illustrations of John James Audubon, this work originated with plant life and horticulture motifs, and grew to encompass birds, river systems, and landscapes. I employ techniques of still life, genre drawing, sculpture, stroboscopic photography, and Land art, and reveal the analogic fingerprints of my interventions, visible accessories, imperfections, and light leaks.
I am particularly moved by the asymmetric relationship the photographs bear to their subjects: the subjects don’t reciprocate, and might rather avoid, the interest of the photographer. The pictures address the viewer’s desire for presence, experience, knowledge, and mastery over his environment, along with the limits of representation, and the subject itself, in fulfilling this desire.
Yola Monakhov makes work that deals with the materiality and textuality of images. Solo exhibitions include “Photography After Dante” and “Once Out of Nature” at the Sasha Wolf Gallery and “Lebende Bilder (I)” at Old Dominion University’s Gordon Art Galleries. Awards include a Meredith S. Moody fellowship from Yaddo, and Fellowship from Greve in Chianti (FI) / Macina di San Cresci. She has been a contributing photographer for The New Yorkermagazine since 2006, and her work has appeared in Esquire, Time, Newsweek,The New York Times, and Harper’s. She received her MFA in visual arts and MA in Italian literature from Columbia University, and is currently Harnish Visiting Artist at Smith College, and faculty at the International Center of Photography. She was born in Moscow, Russia, and lives and works in Northampton, MA, and New York City. website