In Sigri Strand's latest series, Conjuring the Sensation of the Sun, the photographer taps into a human's relationship with food -- but through the lens of science fiction. Part of the citywide Month of Photography, the resulting show opens Saturday, March 9 at GroundSwell, which just won a Westword MasterMind award for its innovative programming. We recently caught up with Strand, a member of Pirate: Contemporary Art, to talk about the origins of the new series.
See also: - Sigri Strand's In The Shade of Night explores the film still as a medium - Meet the 2013 MasterMinds: GroundSwell Gallery - Reed Weimer talks new work, gallery drama and the birth of Navajo Street Art District
Much like her previous exhibition, In the Shade of Night, Conjuring the Sensation of the Sun uses the film still as an aesthetic.
"Basically, I'd been working with genre before -- film noir and horror," says Strand. "I just started reading a lot of science fiction and watching science fiction films and totally geeking out. It was exciting for me to find a new genre and see what kinds of ideas would spring up from that."
This series has the same vacant feeling you find in her earlier work, but there is something special about the way she uses the human element to convey a sense of detachment to the living and dead objects in each frame; it's clear that these are not merely still-life subjects. Strand says she wanted to leave it up to the viewer to decide how to feel about the images, without the interference of a person in the portrait.
"It's like you know someone is there and interacting with what's going on, but it can be anonymous," she notes. "The viewer can connect with it, and there's no person they are trying to relate to."
But she didn't want to eliminate the live interaction completely: "If it was just arrangements of fruit, I wasn't sure if it would come across as a ritual. But for some reason, I didn't want to have faces or someone drawn to a specific character; I wanted to use hands or part of a face. I wanted it to be an interaction with the fruit and flowers with the space, but not necessarily someone that you could identify."
When Strand first started working on this series for GroundSwell -- after spending last summer without a garden -- the idea of a future without naturally-grown food definitely played a part. "The fact that we also had a dry summer kind of influenced the work, too," she says. "I wasn't really able to grow a garden. That was shocking. Not having the water available to grow a garden or feel that if I was watering my garden, I would be stealing water away from the earth, in a sense.
"That sparked the idea of what would happen if we didn't have food grown from the earth in some sort of future land -- and exploring the idea of food as an anomaly," she continues. "How would we treat it if we did have food to grow in some other way without the earth, I guess? Then there's the idea of ritual within the project, and how we would treat this precious fruit or precious food if we didn't see it very often?"
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Meet Sigri Strand at the opening reception for Conjuring the Sensation of the Sun, from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 9 at GroundSwell Gallery. The show runs through April 9. For more information, visit the gallery's Facebook page.