In Conversation with Cherine Fahd

In Conversation with Cherine Fahd

In Conversation with Cherine Fahd

By Suzanne Buljan

I recently spent a great rainy afternoon with the photomedia artist Cherine Fahd in her Sydney studio to sit for a photograph in a series she is working on titled Shadowing Portraits.

In this series, Fahd invites practitioners who work in and around photography to pose for an interrupted portrait. Interrupted in the sense, that she asks her subjects to pose and then surreptitiously mimics their pose behind them. Fahd’s interventions in portraiture are immersive and in this guise, we see snippets of the real Fahd as she examines ideas of discovery in portraiture. Muybridge and Beuys come to mind as she employs happenstance to experiment with ideas such as the question of staging and performance in portraiture; and the interactions between everyday reality and orchestration.

In her studio where she is a lecturer in Photomedia at Sydney College of the Arts, and currently a PHD candidate at Monash University, we discussed my lack of resolve ‘in-front’ of the camera. Eventually, my awkwardness gave way to a sense of irreverent play and artful inability.

It was an intriguing exchange, which surveyed the idea of the studio in the 21C and its relevance in a digital sphere, what it means to make photographs and their cultural currency, the sculptural qualities of the human body, the importance of historical references to her work and the re/discovery of materiality in photography. 

A few questions for Cherine: 

SB: How long have you been a practising artist?

CF: Since 1999 

SB: How do you utilise social media to further your practice?

CF: This feels like a confession…I am social media phobic. I don’t utilize it at all. I have a website which functions as a great way to archive my work and share it with people, very old fashion indeed. My brother is a famous radio announcer in Dubai, he has over 17,000 followers on Facebook and 13,000 on Instagram. It makes me nervous just thinking about this. I can live precariously through him!

SB: How has your practice evolved over the last 5 years?

CF: The biggest shift in my practice over the last five years has evolved from watching my kids make stuff. Their games have influenced my approach to art making. They remind me not too over analyse, over think and judge everything and they prompt me to play and make silly things. They have involuntarily collaborated with me on many works over the past 5 years. Their influence can also be seen in my husbands work, sculptor Todd Robinson. When I’m playing with coloured paper and play-dough, he’s working with balloons and wooden blocks. The objects he makes and the props I use to stage my images are very colourful and clearly come from a child’s toy box.

SB: How important is the physical studio to you? 

CF: I can make work anywhere and anytime. I haven’t ever really had a traditional artists studio. I often shoot in our kitchen or living room when everyone’s at school or work. Recently I have started working from my office at Sydney College of the Arts. If I have a table and a white wall I can do anything. Interestingly Todd and I are building a studio in the back of our sprawling garden in Marrickville. It should be finished by December. I am curious to see how my practice changes with having this ‘dedicated’ space for art.

SB: Who are some of your favourite photographers/artists?

CF: I have many and the names often change. Can I give you a list???? Gabriel Orozco, Roni Horn, Sophie Calle, Julie Rrap, Anne Ferran, Patrick Pound, Elina Brotherus, Fischli & Weiss, Broomberg & Chanarin, Erwin Wurm…I could add another 50 names.

SB: What/who is your muse?

CF: Gitte Weise. She was my first gallerist from 2000-2008. What a woman! I learnt a lot from her in that time. She is an incredible and exciting person to be around and when I am in the studio making I am often having an internal conversation with her. Another muse is curator/writer/artist and friend Daniel Mudie Cunningham. I have nicknamed him ‘art angel’. He does things his own way, doesn’t follow conventions and is an unconditional friend.