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Capture It: Multimedia Artist Lynn Bianchi Switches Things Up

Lynn Bianchi, Eye Box, 2004, mixed media, 6.5" x 10’’ 


By IRINA ABRAHAM
, April, 2018

New York based photographer and multimedia artist Lynn Bianchi discusses her transition from decades of doing classical photography into video art.

IA: You started photographing at the age of 38. Were you always an artist on the inside or was there a moment when the artist was born?  

LB: I had no idea I was going to be an artist. It wasn’t until I met my husband Robert Bianchi that I fell in love with photography. I joined him in this group of photographers headed by Lou Bernstein. Lou encouraged his students to have their own point of view, he was an amazing teacher. I tagged along with them for about seven years, still not photographing. One day I saw Lilo Raymond’s images in a magazine. The way she photographed white mesmerized me and everything came together in that moment. I went out and started to photograph and never stopped.  

Lynn Bianchi, Nyeja Blind Study I, 1982-83, silver gelatin print, selectively hand toned with selenium,  11’’ x 14"

IA: What was your inspiration to work with nude models?

LB: [laughs] This was a hilarious story. My husband Robert met this beautiful woman from Iceland and asked her to take some portraits. She was bold, and when she came over, she got all undressed - so instead he took nudes. I came home and there was Robert with this nude woman in the middle of our apartment. I called up Rob’s mother. She said, “Is that so bad, Lynn?”  - I was doing still life at the time. One day our friend Jean Paul came over with his boyfriend Nyeja. Nyeja saw my work and found it beautiful and sensual. He asked if I would photograph him like that and I agreed.  

IA: How did Heavy In White series happen? 

LB: Well, I went to the Whitney Biennial and saw these tables full of trash. I thought is that art? I can do better than that. So, I thought of what I liked and decided to work with white and body image. That’s how the series started. 

Lynn Bianchi, Sybaris, 1999, gold-toned silver gelatin print, 16’’ x 20’’ 

IA: Would you say living in New York in the vibrant 1960s and 70s played a part in your work as an artist?

LB: It was a time that didn't last long, it was a rebellion against the fifties. The world was a party. No one cared about money, there was a feeling of community. Someone could come to your house and just crash there. New York is my grand passion. It has great energy, diversity; and freedom. I was a bit oppressed growing up. When I arrived to New York, I saw magic and mystery - you could be anonymous and free and do what you want. 

LB: You transitioned into video art a few years ago. What initiated this transition?

LB: My mother. I was visiting her while she was very ill. So I’d go swimming to relieve the tension. Sometimes there were a lot of senior people exercising in the pool, just doing their own thing. Watching them, I thought, oh my god, this is so interesting. It was like a ballet. I photographed them with my eyes for at least a year. Eventually I bought myself a little Panasonic I hardly knew how to use. I would go under water and move with the people, because I have to see the theatre in front of me; I don’t work with just the concept. Not breathing was the challenging part. I told myself, just die but capture it. That’s how the video work started.

  

IA: I know you came up with your own printing techniques in your Globe and Gold Leaf series. You were very autonomous from what I understand. What was it like to start working with new unfamiliar technologies? 

LB: It wasn’t easy. I had made up my mind that I didn’t like the new stuff. I always hated Photoshop – I thought it was the biggest cheat in the world. I didn’t like color either. I had to hire people to help me express myself. It was difficult to communicate, but gradually it moved along. Now I don’t think about technology anymore, just about what I want to do. I’m grateful it gives me the freedom to bring the images in my head to life. 

IA: What advice would you give to young photographers and video artists? 

LB: Do what you want and go with your passion. Don’t let anybody stop you. Believe in what you feel and express it the best way you can.  

IA: I know that you are often perceived as an eccentric person. Do you think this is a necessary attribute of being an artist? 

LB: I know people consider me eccentric but I have no idea why. I hate rules, maybe, that’s it. I want to walk across the street in a diagonal. I consider it logical, not eccentric. It’s boring otherwise. WM

 

Irina Abraham

Irina Abraham is a writer based in New York City.

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