suckerPUNCH: describe your project.
gay RIBISI: this was an underwater photography series that i completed in 2004.the result of shooting my subjects underwater produced a feeling of weightlessness in the images. and then using a black backdrop in a swimming pool the water seemed to disappear and made the subjects look like they were floating in space. i tried to portray everyday scenes, like a girl vacuuming or a girl writing in her journal, though there were some that i just found beautiful of the subjects in vintage nightgowns or slips. the head above water image came later. i was shooting a promotion shot for a musician in la and i just happened to catch her with her head above the water.
sP: who or what influenced this project?
gR: before i came up with the concept of my underwater series, i was experimenting with printing images on transparent material and encasing them in blocks of plastic resin. the images appeared to me to be floating inside the resin. this lead to the idea of actually going underwater to shoot. using weights, backdrops and swimming pools, i created the underwater series called wet. i think the thing that influenced me the most was seeing the images that i was printing on acetate and then encasing in resin…that’s what made me want to go underwater to shoot.
sP: what were you reading/listening to/ watching while developing this project?
gR: during the shooting of wet i saw a portishead video that was directed by chris cunningham. the subjects were underwater in an alleyway. it was so beautiful and powerful at the same time. i almost cried when i saw it. it sort of validated what i was doing underwater, but i think he did a better job…
during that time i also saw a show at the la getty museum of bill viola’s the passions. he had plasma screens on the walls displaying videos taken in super slow motion. the movement of the subjects was almost imperceptible…but as one stood there watching, movement was indeed occurring…and emotions were gushing off the screen. to me it was almost like the emotions were floating.
sP: whose work is currently on your radar?
gR: currently i am working in oils. painting. i am working on a series of faces of people… young and old. the artists that are on my radar at the moment are rembrandt, lucian freud, alice neel, alex kanevsky and sue rubira…though i continually find others that inspire me.