Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Westword RedLine MoP review

Three RedLine shows make up the Month of Photography's halo event

 By Michael Paglia Tuesday, Apr 19 2011

Denver photographer Mark Sink has often worn more than one hat. In addition to taking pictures, he's built a reputation as a first-rate photo curator and ran his own exhibition venue, Gallery Sink, for many years. He also served as the interim director of MCA Denver in the '90s, and I can still remember the enormous over-the-top photo show he mounted in the old fish market where the museum was formerly housed.

But Sink is also the principal impresario behind the Month of Photography, which runs each year from mid-March to mid-April. Given his involvement with RedLine (2350 Arapahoe Street, 303-296-4448,, Sink made that venue the nerve center for the photo festivities that have taken place all over town. And he was intimately involved with the three RedLine shows that could collectively be regarded as MOP's halo event.
First is Thought Objects: New Ideas in Photography, for which Sink brought together photographers from Denver and across the country who do experimental work. Among the invitees are Sabine Aell, Justin Beard, Sterling Crispin, Conor King and Steven Read.
This leads directly into the impressive Discoveries of the Houston FotoFest, a traveling show that highlights ten invited artists, with the work of each being seen in some depth. The participants are from all over the country and were chosen by a jury at last year's FotoFest.
Finally, in the RedLine Project Room, is the other Sink-curated show, Modern Uses of Alternative Processes, which surveys contemporary photographers who employ archaic production methods and materials, as Sink himself has done. On view are handsome works by the likes of Kristen Hatgi ("Megan," pictured), Kevin O'Connell and Mario Zoots.
These museum-quality shows, each of which has been intelligently and expertly installed, run through April 26 and make it clear that when it comes to photo exhibits, Sink is one of the state's best organizers.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Illiterate Magazine

Interview conducted by Adam Gildar

Mark Sink
Meghan | collodion wetplate

For those people who aren't yet familiar with you and your work, could you introduce yourself and a bit about your background...

My name is Mark Sink ... my bla bla bio paragraph goes like this....

Denver native Mark Sink, photographer, curator and teacher, has been and making a living from fine art photography since 1978. He is well known for his imagery made with the toy plastic camera the Diana. Currently, also a reverse technology, he is producing collodion wet plate photographs. His personal work is in numerous museum collections as well as gallery solo and group shows in the US, South America and Europe.  He is currently represented by G. Ray Hawkins in CA. Robin Rice in NY, Paul Cava in Philadelphia Rule Gallery in Denver. As a photographer of fine art he worked with and documented noted artists lives and their work such as Andy Warhol and Jean Michel Basquiat and Rene Ricard. 

Mark Sink
Leah | collodion wetplate

You come from a family with a creative history. Was there any sort of artistic torch passing that occurred between generations?

 Not on purpose .. but it is natural when you grow up in and around art studios,  paint stained smocks and go to art openings as family time outings. I grew up with art as a part of life.. only later did i find out that 98% rest of the world was not much into fine art and were basically afraid of any kind of contemporary art.

Mark Sink
Kristen with Fern | collodion wetplate

To me your photographs all seem to incorporate a certain appreciation for form, be it a glass bottle or a human body. How do you feel form inhabits your work? 

I have always made work more for the heart than the head. I am a romantic and find shape and sensuousness in sand dunes as much as a nude.  Its is shallow and not going to make any impact in art history but I greatly enjoy universal timeless gushy beauty. It makes me very happy making it so i don't question it. I have been doing it for over 30 years and I still get those shivers or weak knees..dizzy .. In that time my refinements are very subtle.. walking a fine line making something that could easily be super corny but instead... something that is honest coming through?.. that reads in a successful sitting with someone.

Mark Sink

Dunes | Diana Camera

You've described an interest in self staged fantasy when it comes to artwork. What is it about the fake that attracts you?

Well staged is a bit more about telling a story... being allegorical in themes like sensuality and death.  

[I have] many influences from the family of staged photographers. Francesca Woodman , Witkin .. haha but now I look at him differently now that I am a Tintypist , photographing using the collodion wet plate process. The fake thing is haunting me with Peter Joel Witkin's work. A large amount of the work is just for effect faking the collodion plate process.. it's trompe l'oeil.

Fake is another subject I have been interested in recently more as a curator with others' work.  We live more and more in a totally fake world. Houses made from fake materials ( fake brick and stone) fake cars and houses and credit cards that fake wealth that we don't really have the means for or can sustain. It spreads everywhere. In photography it's fake silver prints or platinum prints done by inkjet... in relationships its online. I just found these giant conventions of woman tens of thousands strong that have hyper realistic new born babies they take everywhere, and no one knows. And of course the now super realistic blow up dolls that one company was celebrating its 5 millionth sale. It goes on and on.

Mark Sink
Julie Rising | Diana Camera

You often shoot naked women in provocative poses. How do you avoid cliche with such a universally explored and exploited subject matter? 

I walk a fine line there. It's my subtlety that is hard to explain. Making it accepted with academic feminists and curators and upper tier institutions. What is it.. is it being true?.. kind of pure.. .. not faked. A lot of times I find not having eye contact helps dealing with the issue of sexual objectification. But over all being a man photographing a woman naked I am in dangerous waters.  Now a woman photographing a woman naked for some reason is less exploitative and more acceptable.

Mark Sink
Shannon above Lani | Diana Camera

Your photographs are all created with antiquated technology, and it seems that as you've moved forward in your career, the farther back in photographic technique you've gone. What is it about the methods of the past that attract you? Do you think you'll continue to regress as you progress?

Your right, I have always been into reverse technology in photography starting with pinhole and toy cameras, and now going back to when photography was 10 years old with wet plate collodion. I like the idea that light strikes the film plate and makes an image directly on that surface. Its very pure. Its like a Polaroid -- Direct and capturing fact. Fact is getting very slippery these days with digital, and more importantly how we perceive it as fact or fiction. In many and increasing cases digital photography is not allowed in the court of law as evidence anymore.  It's back to my fake thing--.we live in a world of fake -- just look at every magazine cover on the news stand, all heavily touched up creating a hyper reality, a false reality.

Mark Sink

Careful preparation of materials, equipment and models combined with a certain spontaneity seem inherent in your process. What exactly goes into creating a photograph for you?

I use lots of reference materials .. a image or painting will strike me deeply and I will pin it up on the fridge. Kristen [Hatgi] will maybe sew something, or I will find an accessory that fits. I often bring home a big bag of near expired flowers from our friend the florist. Our models in many cases are our friends, we hang out and talk. A new model pretty quickly will see we are focused on artistic concepts rather then a carnal pursuit.

Mark Sink
Gargoyles | Diana Camera
You've worked as both a commercial and fine art photographer. What are your thoughts on the difference between the two and the overlap? 

I have always hated Anne Lebowitz or Herb Ritz kind of cross overs. Photogs could do it in the 50's, 60's and 70's ..Penn, Avedon, Helmut Newton that crew could do it. Then there was Warhol and the pop artists that were wonderful mirrors of our society. Today maybe David La Chapell -- I was freinds with him by the way -- we sat on the bench together to show our portfolio to the art director of Interview magazine Mark Ballet. Another cross over  I was friends with was Nan Golden---I have lots of sick stories of her-- she was around in the art scene in the 80s in NYC. " A Ballad of Sexual Dependency", she alone was the start of heroin sheik in advertising. That became the coolest thing in the ad world for awhile ..  today it is Terry Richardson and or the 20phile Ryan McGinnley..

Mark Sink
Andy 1b

I know you've discussed your time in New York with Andy Warhol and the Factory at length. So we'll skip the general story. But is there any particular experience from that time that stands out to you as indicative?

Holding his hand. Having him review my work and him remembering and asking detailed questions about that series years later. Giving him ideas that he used in his work.

Mark Sink
Andy 11

You're one of the few people I know interested in and able to interact and connect people from a range of social ranks, from members of high society to young artists out on the edge. What do you think the different groups of people have to offer each other? 

One foot in the gutter and one foot in royalty is the way to go in my book.  I feel the great parties are the ones mixed with street and high society. Both will criticize and make fun of each other in their own circles, but I believe that each end has a craving to be accepted in each others' world. Young and Old ..Young learning from the old and old learning from the young I think is one of the most important things in your time line of life. Society tends to be so compartmentalized. In general we dump old people in homes and shrug off young people till they have some kind of stupid certificate. I have always liked things at the beginning, getting things started. I like having influence and setting things into motion. That all happens with young people... and its much much harder with older people. I am really amazed at how I am accepted by many young people. I feel genuinely welcomed in arts events and social gatherings. 

Mark Sink
Grace Jones | Polaroid

Speaking of people you know. You've come into contact with and studied so many different artists that I'm sure it's difficult to name everyone that has informed your work. But if you had to narrow it down to an intimate dinner party, who would you invite? 

That's a cool way to put that question..  Most are dead... Dash Snow,  Andy of course.. Man Ray ... John Balldessari... I'd have Terry Richardson there taking pictures and introducing us to hot models.. and powerful art directors.

Mark Sink
Uma Thurman | Polaroid

Ok, the dinner party is over, who are the young artists you'll be looking to run wild with after the establishment goes home?

I'd take Sylvie Tillman and Dash snow and several of the crew from the New Museum's "Younger then Jesus show" to come see Illiterate and Rinoceropolis.  Just like how I brought the Dutch film crew that was looking for the new bohemians in Denver.

In general, I have a long list of new hot talent I found at Houston Fotofest who I will be showing around in Denver...Lucas Folgia .. Chris Simms ..  My newest find is an internet artist prankster dude, Pavel Matela,  in Prague that pushed all my buttons with photo/Internet mischievousness. He fits my fake/false reality thing. There are several interesting photojournalists are driving around .. they pick interesting people to with them fully close day in and day out. Gretta Pratt's Liberty series and the Lincoln series stand out. Alli Richards too. Check out the California forest fire series. " Jesusita Summerland "

Any last words?

Try and be truthful... and pure. follow your passions.

Mark Sink
Leo Castelli | Polaroid