Jamie Dolinko: Four days in France
Jamie Dolinko, Four days in France, 2011, video, Courtesy of the Artist
Artist Jamie Dolinko has lived and studied in Amsterdam and New York but has made Vancouver her home for the past 12 years. Her recent work, Four days in France, assembles 101 photographs into a slide show of images, set to Bohemian Sunset by St. Germain. As the name suggests, this work documents her brief sojourn this past summer from Laon to Paris and back. Taking the role of a contemporary flâneur, Jamie deftly captures a sense of time, place and experience. Although Paris has been endlessly photographed, under Jamie’s lens a very particular perspective of her time in the French capital is crafted. She kindly offered to share her work with Here and Elsewhere as well as some insight into her larger practice:
Here and Elsewhere: We know you work in a couple of different media, but primarily in photography – what interests you about photography in particular?
Jamie Dolinko: The kind of photography I do is a sort of witnessing, and what seems to attract me is very often a subtle or instantaneous gesture that the camera is uniquely suited to rendering. I guess I’m still intrigued by the decisive moment which may be unfashionable, but it’s a significant aspect of my process.
H&E: We like the idea of the camera as your witness. When you began Four Days in France did you intend to make an artwork with specific sites and a trajectory in mind? Or did your idea develop as you began taking images?
JD: I was intentionally collecting images, but wasn’t sure what they’d be applied to, or what I’d find or respond to until it was actually in front of me. I’d been to Paris several times before and knew what the city looked like, so I did have specific neighbourhoods in mind. But it wasn’t until I got home and reviewed the entire body of work and could begin to pull out pieces that I felt both stood on their own and flowed with the other work that I decided on this format, which also seemed tailored to delivering large amounts of imagery.
H&E: What was your impetus to combine your static images in this way? By putting together your images in this format, it seems you have really expanded the narrative possibilities of the still image, creating a story of sorts – was that your aim?
JD: Four days in France is one of the more linear projects I’ve done but I’ve been working with the idea of making still images move since High-rise Studies, Yellow Square and The Lagoon, which all combined static images with motion. I think it’s the nature of photography, whether it’s constructed or documentary, to suspend and describe a particular moment, and to support a narrative. I’m interested in what happens when you set up a sequence of those narratives, and new media definitely expands my ability to string together images, which I suppose is already a kind of story or motion picture making.
H&E: Many of the images in your work are of ordinary people and objects, rather than of the really stunning architecture of Paris, for example. But you are still able to convey a very specific sense of place. Was avoiding typical ‘touristic’ imagery a conscious decision?
JD: It’s hard not to be awed by all the grandeur and history, but I also find tremendous value in the everyday because for one thing, that’s where I seem to spend a lot of my time. It’s as compelling for me to sit on the subway or metro as it is to walk through the halls of a great museum, and I’m interested in the juxtaposition and the range between the two. Also, the camera is an excellent vehicle for bringing me into the present, a place I generally find rich in subject matter no matter where I am.
H&E: Paris is such an inherently beautiful city. Working in Vancouver, where much of the lauded photography celebrates this city’s back alleys and deteriorating urban structures, were you consciously making a choice to take images that are more conventionally beautiful?
JD: Vancouver is a gorgeous city too, geographically speaking, but it’s so new that I’m not surprised people are attracted to remnants or decay, something leftover that might suggest a past or imply some historical significance. And despite the fact that I’m a big fan of what a friend calls “ruin porn”, and the impressive concentration of amazing talent here, I find some of that work really clinical, heavy on the theory, and quite masculine. And those are not necessarily impulses that drive my own work. I see no reason why something beautiful and something critical have to stand in opposition to each other, or be mutually exclusive. I have no problem with beauty…
H&E: Thanks so much Jamie!