Monday, January 22, 2018

Drudging up the gloom | An interview with Aviv Grimm

When did you discover photography was your passion and can you tell us
how you found yourself working as a photographer?

I first became really interested in photography in high school. I used to shoot only analog and develop all of my film in our school's darkroom. From then on it just continued to progress and form into my number one creative outlet and the only thing I could conceivably see myself doing career-wise.

 Your work is very unique and has a very ethereal and dark mysterious
undertone to it. Where do you find your inspiration for your work and are
there central themes you like to visit and re-visit?

I'm inspired by old horror films, elements of witchcraft and demonology and the images in texts on the subject, pieces on mourning from the Victorian era, and of course the darkest and dreariest parts of my own mind. The central theme of my work is just an outer display of my inner torment (coupled with the visual inspirations I mentioned previously), and I'm afraid that's one that I'll likely be re-visiting on an eternal loop.

Are you self taught or did you study photography? 

I'm primarily self taught. I studied it a little in high school and learned the basics of analog photography. In college I tried to take a course and was so put off that I dropped out after the first class!

You often model yourself in your photography. Is this deliberate or
primarily convenience?

Its definitely more convenient to shoot myself - I find that its always easier to manipulate my body and movement to achieve the exact outcome I’m looking for rather than direct someone who’s vision might not align with what I have in mind.

Of course, aside from a photographer you are also a model for other photographer’s work. Which came first? Modelling or photography and what do you love about each of them?

Photographer first, definitely. I still feel uncomfortable in front of a camera! Photography is an instantaneous satisfaction of whatever vision I've been plotting. I love being able to convey a mood in an instant like that. When modeling I'm conveying the mood for whoever I'm working for. To me its harder work! But fun to play a character and bring pieces to life.

A lot of your photography features a mystical and almost macabre aesthetic whilst maintaining a somewhat modern feel. Can you explain the importance of the imagery in your work and the ethos behind it? Would you say your photography is inspired by the places you visit and capture more
so than the photography informing the subject?

A lot of the mood behind my work sprouts from the tangled roots of mental illness. My images portray our inner demons, the darkest corners of our minds, pain and fear and beauty. I wanted to show that even in a photo of a beautiful cathedral, for example, there is always something lurking - a darkness that may not be visible to all but undoubtedly looms and preys. My disorders hover over everything I do, acting as a shadow in every image I take. In this way I think the photography informs the subject. My little demon is present in a planned out shoot or a simple photo in my bedroom. I think this plays to the modern feel as well - by showcasing this darkness in my every day life it becomes more accessible and less ethereal. 

Are there any artists you admire and would love to some day work with?

I regularly dream about bringing Bill Crisafi's drawings to life. I'm very fond of Nona Limmen's work, Crystal Lee Lucas, and Courtney Brooke.

 Is there any subject matter or person you would love to shoot but haven't
yet had the opportunity to?

A lot of my work is very heavily based around architecture, but I'd love to step away from that and shoot subjects against nature - the Icelandic landscape, dense forest fogs, or seaside caves.

 You predominately shoot black and white. What is it about black and white tones that you love most and do you prefer shooting analog or digital?

I'm not sure what it is, I'm always happier when its grey outside and the saturation just falls around me. The same thing with my home - everything is in grey scale. I just think its so beautiful and calm.
I only recently started shooting digital because it just seemed more practical for the types of projects I was doing. Analog will always be my real love though. There's something immensely satisfying about manually controlling a photo from start to finish.

 What can we expect from Aviv Grimm in the future?

I'm excited to be modeling in Ashley Rose Couture's New York Fashion Week show this February, releasing more limited custom framed prints in my shop (, and drudging up more gloom from the pits of my psyche for the Internet to enjoy.

© Mckenzie Leek for Ashley Rose Couture