november 5, 2018
Adele: Are you a cat or a dog?
Farrah: I think I am a dog.
Adele: What makes you think you are a dog? What’s informing this answer?
Farrah: Actually, I might rescind that. I think I am more like a cat, but I like dogs more.
Adele: That’s so fair.
Farrah: I kind of like to keep to myself more in social situations. I am more self-reliant. And maybe a little bit sneaky.
Adele: Oh yeah, that is such a good answer for cat. Yeah, independent and self-serving, but cats are really secretive. They lead their own lives separate from us. They don’t want to share.
Farrah: I’m working on being more like a dog I think.
Adele: This is why we have dogs. Because we are cats trying to learn more about how to be like dogs. What have you been working on recently?
Farrah: So I’ve just finished up working on a project for the past year, which was documenting people’s spaces in Richmond.
Adele: And you made a book!
Farrah: And I made a book. It was a great experience, a total learning experience.
Adele: What kind of lessons were learned?
Farrah: I think just figuring out how to come into someone’s space and figuring out how to shoot it off the cuff, maybe never having been in there before, not knowing if the light’s going to be good or whatever. Trusting them and that they knew when the light was good. So photographing, but also being able to just sit down with a stranger for a couple hours and get something out of it--something content-wise--that was a learning experience every time. That, and figuring out how to replicate that process over and over. It was cool to figure out that formula and then after a while, it began to feel too formulaic. I wrapped that project and now I want to go into something that feels rigid and structured and has more breathing room, I guess. So, all that to say, I just made a couple collage pieces last month for an exhibition that Ricardo was doing at ADA Gallery.
Adele: Yeah, those were really nice.
Farrah: Thank you. I just threw those together, which was really cool since I don’t really print my photos that often. Those were all old film photos that I had taken over the past 6 years. I was going through those archives and finding tiny little bits of them that I could blow up and print out. So that was a really cool and weird experience. Just of looking at my photos in a different light.
Instead of looking at them as a whole, I was looking at tiny chunks of them that I could cut out and use in a collage. That was a whole new way to look at the photographs that I had taken. And it kind of made me reframe how I want to take photos--not shooting just for the whole but shooting tiny bits as well, that could eventually be made into a cool whole. Now I am taking that experience and figuring out how to keep doing that. I want to make another book at some point in the next year, hopefully, that is a little bit more free flowing. I want it to have a bit more writing in it and imagery but still be something that I work on with other people--like, bringing other peoples’ stories into it. But I’m not quite sure what I want that to look like yet. Maybe a bit more personal. The first book was a little bit more surface-level. I mean, it was and it wasn’t. You’re with someone for two hours and it’s the first time you’re meeting them, so you can only get so deep into stuff in that time. So, I’d like the next project to be something that is a little more focused and a little more driven. But the collage pieces that I worked on were based on experiences of home and finding home in different places.
Adele: Oh cool! I didn’t realize exactly that your collages in that show were about home. What is your definition of home?
Farrah: That is what I am trying to figure out with my work. I got a couple versions of the collages printed because I didn’t know what kind of paper I wanted it printed on. Ultimately, I used vellum, but these are like just bond paper. So I cut all these pieces out and they’re a bit wrinkled. But the actual piece is on vellum so it’s slightly see-through.
When I was going through all my film photos, I realized how much I felt like you could tell where I was. Home has really centered around my photographs in the end and where I was and who I was with and if I felt at home or not, I guess. And there was such a large shift when I moved to Virginia, and then each subsequent place that I lived. This half of them went in one piece and this half went in the other. I don’t know, I am trying to figure out if my definition of home resides in people or if it resides in places or if it resides in a community of people or a city. That’s what I’ve been figuring out in asking ‘Do I move? Do I not? Where is my home? Who is my home? And what does that look like for me?’
Adele: Are you settled or a nomad?
Farrah: I feel like I am kind of a settler; I really like making things homey. The second I move into a house I have to make everything perfect before I can feel comfortable. I’m a nester. But I’ve been moving quite a bit. After we moved here, I moved to Spain and moved back. And then I moved to the city and moved to a lot of different apartments in the city in the past three years. So in that way, I like feeling like I don’t have a lot of things, like I could just get up and go. I like feeling light on my feet, like I could just go wherever the wind takes me.
Adele: Is there a particular object in this space that has sentimental value for you?
Farrah: Yeah, I feel like all of my items are sentimental, and that’s why I have them around for one reason or another. All of these are insanely sentimental. So the title of this side of the piece is “Homes that were mine.” These are all moments or places that were super indicative of home for me, in whatever facet that is.
Adele: The gum is so good with the teeth and thinking about that as home: the socket.
Farrah: That was from the very first roll of film that I took, when I was fifteen. And this is a really close crop of my sister’s forehead and freckles. And these two images are the first roll of film that I ever took in Virginia. And just like, different pieces and places that have been home at one point. This one is called “I brought you home, didn’t I.” When we got in an accident, we didn’t get to go to California. We had to turn around and come back, so that was me dealing with not getting to go to my home and having to bring two people I really cared about back to their homes. Like, I really wanted to keep going but that wasn’t an option, so I had to just give that up and give somebody else their home. That’s me dealing with the loss of that—and me being selfish.
Adele: Yes, this severed vector of homeward-bound energy.
Farrah: I think one direction I would like to take my work is--like, this is kind of about home, but there is also a lot of loss running through that. I wanna keep working on loss or failure as a concept--how can failure be motivating and how can it be also shitty and disheartening? How do we work through that?
Adele: Yeah totally.
Farrah: So that’s one of the things that I want to start sitting down with people about and asking them about. Like, what was a time when you failed? I want to structure it like this, giving them the questions ahead of time and sitting down and talking to them about it.
Adele: Yeah it can be hard to disclose your failures and risk being shameful.
Farrah: Yeah, ‘cause it can be shameful! And it’s hard and shitty to talk about, but I really feel like those failures can be landmarks for what has happened in our lives or what decisions we’ve made or where we’ve moved or who we spend our time with. All that is based on these fucking colossal things that happened that we just have to figure out how to pick up the pieces and keep going.