10 minutes with Adrienne Grunwald

Interviews with Photographers March 4, 2014 1:26 pm

When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer?

My relationship with “knowing I wanted to be a photographer” has had many ebbs and waves. Like so many others, I fell in love with photography and the darkroom when I was a teenager. I loved everything about it and it became an obsession. I dreamt of making it my life and spoke at length with my professor in college about the path I would have to take to make it real. But the reality was that I never believed that I could make it – and for a long time I didn’t have the balls to try. It took me about eight years of working at a desk job and dreaming of the outside world to know what I really wanted.

Who were the first artists that you loved and who is inspiring you today?

Well as per photographers – one of the first photo books I was shown was Larry Fink’s Social Graces. I remember at the time I wasn’t really sure what type of work I wanted to make. Some images in that book really shocked me out whatever introverted ideas I had about myself – I felt stricken by the strange intensity of the moments he captured, the view into another’s personal world unlike my own, and the idea that someday I could possibly do the same. It was charming. At current I feel like there are so many artists and photographers pulling at my desperate little heart, but to name a few – this past summer I saw Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs’ Ready (To Be) Made at LE BAL which I thought was an inspiring installation. And I think Lieko Shiga’s work is so incredibly beautiful and like nothing I’ve seen before. Also recently I’ve been diving into the world of memory and so I’ve been interested in Daniel Blaufuks’ work. And also, I work a lot in collage – so I am very much in love with Dieter Roth’s editions.

If you could go back ten years, what advice would you give yourself?

Not too long ago I was reading Mary Ruefle and I remember this one part where she speaks of the voice within us, “a great weirdness” that we are all trying to listen to. It struck me, because I hear that voice all the time and I had distrusted it for so long. I thought my desire to become a photographer was some silly concoction of my youth and instead of listening, I pushed it far away so I could go on living some sort of pragmatic lifestyle I had assumed would serve me best. That worked temporarily, but soon enough that voice became louder and a bit more obscene. I realized that instead of listening, I opted to hide. So my advice to my twenty-one year old self would be to listen and to have faith in that voice. For me there will always be a battle between getting what I want and the desire to hide in fear. But what I’ve finally admitted is that I want a lot from this life. I want a lot for my heart, for my work, for my family, I want for so many things, and the only way to get it is to listen, to be vulnerable and to have a lot of faith in that weirdness within.


(Adrienne is based in New York. See more of her work, here)

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