Ana Vega’s Decisive Imagery

Ana Vega’s photography exists at the intersection of engineered fiction and bare reality. Ana is one of our newest photographers in the Residency Program here at the lab, and will be exhibiting images from this body of work in an event at ABCo Artspace in Oakland this upcoming weekend.

Don’t miss the opening, this Saturday April 20, 6pm at 3135 Filbert St in Oakland.

Ana says, “The act of photographing represents a series of decisions and actions, and my work investigates the protocols of the look, of visual perception. I strive to offer images that, despite their realistic qualities, provoke a hesitation as to how to understand them.”


Kim Sikora: Can you talk a little bit about your series? How did you create the concept?


Ana Vega: Her eyelashes rise and fall like a theatre curtain is the trio of images that I worked on while in residency at Dickerman. I was working with silicone, pigmenting it and then pouring it. I wanted to make tongues that would come out of a picture. I then worked with them in the studio with a neutral backdrop to make these images. The process became close to painting, applying color to a surface, red puddles on a flat grey. The images appear in a degree zero as face expressions, moods, postures. Between extreme abstraction and immediate facial recognition.

The images for Her eyelashes rise and fall like a theatre curtain are a parade of an eyelash’s calculated
palpitations, in postures of seduction. Sticking out tongues pouting lusciously, showing their make-up and apparent retouches, like lipstick marks/tracks. The idea of mutual desire with images. “Pictures want to be kissed. And of course we want to kiss them back.”

There is the pleasure of distortion; when the photograph arrives on my screen, the primary mood isn’t the same any more, it’s ready to change. I can knead it and put on a different face, the face I want to show. There is a temporality that is specific to the photographic medium, that is dismantled in stages. It shows through as a being that is always malleable, at each step of production, in it’s own way.

KS: A lot of your images are very clean and spare. Can you describe some of your aesthetic choices in
this vein?

AV: The studio space has an essential role in my images, it is this place where I can bring an object and isolate it – from its context, from its relationships to the world, to us in a certain way – and create fiction… Its a blank. The spareness that you are referring to comes from the will of a specific focus. As portraits of sorts, the subject is placed in plain view. I put my subjects through auditions, and as characters they may play several different roles, or re-appear in different contexts or scenes.

KS: How has your imagery changed in the past few years?

AV: It’s actually changing now, again. My work has always been interested in the aesthetics of advertising, and its static feel. Without leaving that arena, but as a departure towards something more sensual, my imagery is now looking for a more formless or anonymous shape.

KS: For this project, you’ve been in many different locations, LA, SF, and Paris. Do you see any trends
in the local photography scene? How would you compare this to other cities you’ve lived and created in?

AV: I came to California because I’ve been interested for the past couple of years in a young scene of
photographers that was bubbling up in a very influencial way for me – Elad Lassry, Sam Falls, Lukas Blalock, Michele Abeless… Annette Kelm, in Germany..

Southern California gave me something more, something else, difficult to describe. The landscape and cityscape, Peter Shire (and the Memphis Studios)… but it’s not only that. I like this quote from Don Draper, talking about love, “What’s the difference between a husband knocking on a door and a sailor getting off a ship? About ten thousand volts.” Los Angeles is the antinomy of Paris. And yet, loving Paris, it comes so naturally to fall in love with LA. They have this kind of relationship of extreme desire, telling each other “don´t change a thing.”

KS: Is there a new project you’re working on you’d like to tell us about?

AV: A couple of projects are upcoming, a collective show at the 104 in Paris this September. And I’ll be back in California for a duo-show with Gina Osterloh, a great photographer that I met in LA, at Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles in September 2014.