Haunting, ethereal, dark, primal. These are all words that spring to mind when the work of Krist Mort. Based in Austria and active for the past three years or so, Kirst is a self taught photographer who brings experimentation to the forefront of her work – something you can see clearly in the work she has been kind enough to share here today, as well as her website, kristmort.com.
Bear in mind that one or two 0f the images you’ll find here are Not Safe For Work.
Over to you, Krist.
Hi Krist, what‘s this picture, then?
This is probably my most recent photograph, taken a bit over a week ago in my (old) studio. The place was recently sold so I have to move out, which came as a big shock to me.
Almost all of my work created in the past year, as well as the influence for many series I shot within this time, originated from this location. It was a dirty and cold place. But I loved it for that, and many more reasons.
Ok, so who are you? (the short version, please)
I was born and grew up in Austria. I quit school when I was 17, worked as a model for a few years, then returned home and had no clue what to do with my life. I eventually resorted to photography and have stuck with it ever since.
When did you start shooting film?
I got my first film camera at the age of 13. Digital photography was already a big thing back then and people were seriously puzzled when I walked into (every single!) photo store, asking about analogue cameras and film.
I found a Canon AE-1 and started taking pictures of everyone and everything in sight. Having no clue whatsoever about photography, or how to even handle a camera like that, I was rather disappointed with my first results. I put the camera away and actually sold it a couple years afterwards.
It was only after I turned 19 that I returned to photography, patient and eager enough to learn what I needed to know in order to take, develop and print my own pictures – and eventually make it my profession.
What about now. Why do you shoot film and what drives you to keep shooting?
I think the analogue process itself is, what keeps me motivated and keeps me interested in creating, in general. It is a laborious process, but at the same time such an intimate one too. To me it always feels like there is an individual relationship built when taking and processing an image.
There is something tangible, something organic about it that no other thing compares to.
Any favorite subject matter?
The human body. The most primitive and mundane, yet complex and beautiful thing there is. It will never cease to fascinate me.
You can never use film again. What‘s your last roll?
It is quite a desperate thought, but I’d use whatever is lying around. Preferably something with low ISO – I’d probably shoot this one roll again and again, triple or quadruple-exposing the whole thing until was no real object left to see on the final images;just some weird forms blending and melting together.
Proceeding to print, I’d make a concoction of chemicals I had to hand that I could mix with the developer. In the past I’ve tried drain cleaner, nail polish remover and low hydrogen. It’s kind of a hit or miss and the final prints sometimes change over time, but some of the results were rather astonishing.
That way, I’d (probably) destroy or at least distort the very last distinguishable forms on the images…but that’s ok, I think I wouldn’t want my very last roll of film to be something concrete, objective and real. I would want it to be all kinds of things that you can’t really describe or even see properly – a picture that could show anything, or nothing at all.
You have 2 minutes to prepare for an assignment. One camera, one lens, two films and no idea of the subject matter. What do you take with you and why?
I use the same camera and lens pretty much all the time: a Konica FT-1 with a 50mm f/1.2 lens. I also like to push process my film, so I’d probably take a roll of Kodak T-MAX100 and T-MAX400 with me. They’re simply good films that I’ve been using frequently.
This shot above was actually shot on my usual T-MAX100 I still have no idea why or how the whole roll turned out to be that way)
You have an unlimited supply of film to shoot in one location. Where do you go?
My old studio. Always.
What do you think is people‘s greatest misconception about film photography and how would you set it straight?
Some say that it‘s too expensive or time consuming. On the contrary, there are people out there thinking that somehow, their analogue camera will suddenly make them a better photographer because the results are so much more “artistic” than any digital image they have taken.
I think working with film CAN make you a better photographer. But that comes with time and it’s because you have to concern yourself much more with the subject you‘re photographing, with your surroundings and everything else that is involved in the process.
Ultimately, it all depends on the person, their expectations and desires.
In your opinion, what‘s the future of film photography?
It might be very optimistic but I’m certain that film photography will stick around for quite a bit longer. It might be futile to compete with digital when it comes to everyday-usage but within the more creative fields, analogue photography has established very well and is an inherent part of art and culture.
Also, with projects like Lomography, New55 or even The Impossible Project, film is being promoted quite a bit it seems.
~ Krist Mort
Krist says that “the analogue process offers endless possibilities to play and experiment with my images”.
Looking at what she’s shared with us here today, I think we can all say that this isn’t just a simple line in order to promote her art.
I’ve been lucky enough to speak to many talented photographers over the past few months and whilst photography as a pure effort to capture a landscape, street scene, or person, is an admirable cause (a road I myself travel), speaking with photographers who mix other arts truly fascinate me. Krist, Michael Jackson, Brittany Markert and Roger Ballen come to mind as four who occupy a space beyond the norm that sits in the truly artistic.
I’d also encourage you to have a quick peek at her new project, “Tera”. It was released this month (November 2015), and focuses on the human body, merging with its origin.
The book’s six chapters explore a cycle of birth and decay through photographs, portraying bodies as desolate parts of landscapes…rooted in earth, growing, falling apart and then returning to their beginnings. The two images from the “any favorite subject matter” question are taken from the project.
It’s a fascinating project and one very worthy of your attention. Check it out now: http://www.kristmort.com/.
I’m off to spend some time with a cup of coffee and a coloring book.
We’ll be back again soon but as ever, keep shooting folks.
The community needs you. If you’d like to take part in this series of film photographer interviews, please drop us a line or get in touch in the comments. We’re featuring to photographers young and old; famous and obscure, so get in touch and let’s talk.