Margeaux Walter is a photographer and mixed-media artist from Seattle living in New York City. By layering, collaging, and manipulating images, she explores everyday human interactions and gestural modes of communication while playing with perceptions of reality and fantasy.
Walter studied at the Maine Photographic Workshops and Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, where she received her BFA. Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Nohra Haime Gallery and Winston Wachter Fine Art, and the Magenta Foundation chose her as a top emerging photographer in the United States in 2009. She is also the recipient of the Juror’s Choice Award at the Butler Institute of American Art’s National Midyear Exhibition and Art Omi Fields Sculpture Park has commissioned her to create a large-scale outdoor installation.
Interview carried out by Jack Little in November 2012. This interview and the cover photo provided by Margeaux were published in The Ofi Press in issue 25.
1. Your website mentions “the craving for human contact” that we all desire as humans. How do you explore this through your artwork?
The craving for human contact in my work is portrayed mainly through the lack thereof. Many of my characters are engaged in intimate or social activities, yet there is a barrier. This barrier to me is technology, but more so the way that it is changing human activities and behaviors. We are still learning how to integrate it into our social and intimate lives, and thus far it seems to be an awkward process.
2. Technology plays a huge part in your work. What kind of emotional attachment do you have to technology?
I have a love-hate relationship with technology. I use it, I rely on it, but I also loathe that dependence. I miss going to a restaurant, walking down the street, or talking to a friend without being interrupted by a smartphone. Much of my work is inspired by my own experiences, or those of people around me. When I made my piece " iPhone Accident," which shows a person dropping their iPhone in the toilet, I did so because so many of my friends had that experience. To me, that is a perfect example of the irony of modern life and technological dependency. That said shortly after creating the piece, I had a first hand experience…so though my work mocks modern life, I include myself in that.
3. What is the process involved in the production of your photography?
I am a people watcher, so many of my ideas come from simply observing what is going on around me. Living in NYC, I have no shortage of material. Next I sketch out the image, assemble the costumes and photograph the scenes and characters. Depending on the piece, some are collaged from hundreds of images, while others are created with only one or two images using intricate sets. For the lenticular pieces, I interlace them on the computer and then print and laminate them to a lenticular lens.
4. What does “identity” mean to you?
My own identity is usually distinct from my work, which is derived from observation. When I develop characters for my work, I spend a lot of time in costume, performing and photographing in order to really understand the personality I'm creating. But I try to keep the identity of these characters separate from my own.
5. If you had $500,000 dollars (which I am not offering) what arts project would you spend it on?
I can't say exactly what it would be, but probably a playful interactive public installation in a place that would allow viewers to engage and experience both joy and distraction from their everyday routines or activities.