Art has power. Everything we create and share with the world has an effect. Josephine Sacabo creates beauty and a new form of poetry.
We are honored to share her words and art.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO PHOTOGRAPHY?
I actually never had any intentions of doing photography. I studied literature in college and then went into acting and that was what I was doing when I picked up my first camera. My husband and I were doing theatre in London and took a break for the summer to a tiny house we had in a small village in the south of France. We had previously lent the house to a photographer friend and he left a Pentax 35mmm camera behind. My husband was writing a play and, being an actress, I had a lot of down time on my hands so I took the camera to an English photographer friend who also lived in the village and asked him to show me how to use it. He had a small darkroom and made me develop the film and do a contact sheet and from the moment I saw that contact sheet come up in the developer I was hooked. Permanently. He had worked as an assistant for Cartier-Bresson and introduced me to all the great French humanist photographers and I began working in a style very influenced by them.
WHO INSPIRES YOU?
I am mostly inspired by literary texts. But among my photo heroes are Josef Sudek, Heinrich Kühn, Edward Steichen, Josef Koudelka, and Hugo Brehme
WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU FACE AS A PHOTOGRAPHER, AN ARTIST?
Translating the intangible into the pictorial. And communicating it .
WHAT IN YOUR EYES MAKES A GREAT PHOTOGRAPH? A GREAT WORK OF ART?
In my eyes a great work of art has to come from an authentic place in the artist; an intense need to express whatever it is and then the discipline and hard work of giving it its most perfect form.
COULD YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR PROCESS?
I now use the photogravure process which is a modern version of the centuries old engraving technique. It’s a beautiful process that can embody my highest ideals for an image. The initial capture can be either film or digital and the end product is printed on whatever paper you choose on a press from inked plates. I give a pretty complete demo of it in a video on my website for those interested in exactly how its done.
WHAT IS THE PERFECT PHOTOGRAPHIC DAY?
The perfect photo day for me is usually in New Orleans or San Miguel in the light that peeks between the clouds of a summer storm.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR STUDIO, YOUR WORK SPACE?
I am lucky to have an incredibly beautiful studio in New Orleans – all I could ever hope for. It’s a brick early 20th century warehouse with a beautiful tin ceiling and all the light I could ever want. When I decorated the place the only criteria was for it to be a place where I could go and daydream. So it’s a strangely haunting and beautiful space with a small library in it and a big beautiful printing press.
YOU SEEM TO HAVE A TRUE LOVE OF LITERATURE, IS THAT WHAT LED TO LUNA PRESS?
I do have a deep love for literature, poetry in particular and I started Luna Press because I wanted to make beautiful books that emphasize the correspondence between words and images.
HOW DO YOU CHALLENGE YOURSELF CREATIVELY?
My biggest challenge photographically is always to do justice to what has inspired it; whether that’s a text or a place or a person. To really pay homage to my sources.
IS THERE A TYPE OF PHOTOGRAPHY OR SUBJECT MATTER YOU LIKE TO DO?
The subject matter in my work varies enormously but it is always a very subjective response to whatever has inspired me. I have used the female body a lot to express a variety of experiences. Also reflections in water, landscapes, montages, etc. I like working with layered imagery to show not only the thing seen but the person seeing it.
IF NO ONE SAW YOUR WORK WOULD YOU STILL CREATE IT?
Absolutely. No choice really. It helps me live.
WOULD YOU PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR BOOK?
My last book, “NOCTURNES”, sort of exemplified what Luna Press wants to do. It is a collaboration between myself and my husband who is a poet. It’s set in the liminal space between day and night and is connected more by the logic of poetry and dreams than rational thought.
ANY UPCOMING PROJECTS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?
I am now nearing completion of a huge project based on the work of a great Brazilian writer called Clarice Lispector. I don’t want to jinx it so I’ll tell you more about it when it’s done. Also getting ready to publish a new book called, “LUX PERPETUA”, with Luna Press which is my images and the poetry of the amazing Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz, a 17th century Mexican nun who was the greatest poet of the new world – from within a cloistered convent. Both Sor Juana and Clarice Lispector have had an incalculable effect on my life and work.
Thank you Josephine for your time and your art.
To learn more of Josephine’s work please visit her site, Josephine Sacabo
To learn more about Luna Press please visit Luna Press.