Our Interview With Dianne Bos

by Photo Life

In the June/July 2019 issue, there’s an excellent Wisdom, Wit and Other Tidbits interview with photo-based artist Dianne Bos. If you’ve read the interview, you’ll remember how Bos mentioned she was in a band. Here are two Perfect World music videos from the ’80s as well as some sections of the interview that we didn’t have room to print in the magazine.

As she said in the interview when asked how she deals with criticism when it comes to her photography, “Once you’ve played in a band on stage, you learn the hard way how to deal with criticism. I haven’t had someone hurl a beer bottle at me during an exhibition yet.”

Most admired photographer?
Abelardo Morell. You can tell by his images that he loves the magic and science of photography. There is a playfulness, inquisitiveness about the world in his work. They are more than photographs of things. The camera-obscura room images he has made turn the world outside in and are probably what he’s most known for, but his other photo series are equally intriguing. His recent series are photos of camera-obscura images projected on the ground. So you get the texture of the earth as part of the image at that site. The camera, the location and subject are collaborators in his work. He sculpts using light in the spaces he photographs. It’s more than the end product that makes his work fascinating.

What’s your Sisyphean struggle?
Not going digital. I love printing traditionally in the darkroom, but this gets harder and harder each year. The only place I can print colour is the darkrooms at the Banff Centre. I’ve been lucky in that I live in Calgary, and I’m relatively close to the centre, so I’ve been able to access their vintage Colex colour printer. When that thing breaks down, it’s going to be tough to find the parts or someone to repair it. I couldn’t have done The Sleeping Green series any other way. I was making photograms while exposing photo paper to images I took of WW1 battlefields. A complicated combination that you couldn’t do digitally. There was a performance aspect of making these photos as well. A kind of alchemy or ritual that was symbolic of what happened at those sites. I approached each image differently: burying the paper with stones as I exposed it, burning in the darkness, flashes of light creating shadows or red flares. Photograms/shadows of rocks, plants and even a bullet found on the battlefields became part of the images.

If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?
I’m happy with the super powers I have.

How do you balance your personal life and work life?

Favourite meal?
Stamppot Boerenkool. I hated this dish as a kid, but now it’s very comforting, especially in the frickin’ cold of Calgary.

What are you reading now?
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari. Virtual Light, William Gibson. I like to mix up non-fiction science and science fiction. A lot of science fiction has become non-fiction.

Something you never do?

Something you always do?
I’m not a creature of habit.

Something you would have done differently?
I would have published a book on how to make pinhole cameras back in the late 90’s when the digital world started taking over image making and as a back lash people started getting interest in pinhole and low tech photography. Back then, there were only a handful of us making images this way. Now you can Google thousands, and they’ve all published books. ☹

Your take on Instagram?
Oh, that’s a tough question as it’s a love/hate thing. I never joined Facebook, but I’m on Instagram. “Oh, but Instagram is owned by Facebook!” I know, I know, but it’s great when it’s just about sharing interesting images, and, yes, that can be crazy things animals do. The stuff I post, for the most part, isn’t work I’d show in galleries. Look at what Cindy Sherman posts. Something quite different from her “art” work.

I don’t like it when it’s like Facebook and has too much personal info. I wish people would save that for private emails.

How do you carry your photo gear?
Shopping bag or knapsack.

Your workflow?
I flow with the seasons. I mostly photograph in the spring, summer, fall, and print in the winter.

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