Richard Ansett

Interview with Pinar Dag, Fotoritim

Dear Richard, you are working on static portraits and disability & illlness. Can you tell us your exit point?

My work is an exploration of the human condition as it exposes itself to a moment in front of a camera. It is all that I can do with a camera to explore personality. I am drawn to subject’s that experience life more intensely as this shows more distinctly in their relationship to the camera. My personal statement reflects how I feel and approach my subjects; we are a product of our environment, our decisions as to how we appear to the world are distorted by our life experience. The camera can expose certain layers of this. We are all potential subjects but inevitably, the physical manifestation of those whose lives are more intensely disrupted by physical or mental illness, offer something less familiar and therefore are visually more stimulating. Although I am not motivated by any sense of exploitation or desire to sensationalize. My exploration is motivated to offer empathy for others who may not understand or communicate their feelings or feel alone in dealing with them. The bottom line is that we all will inevitably at some point and without exception experience intense emotion, physical pain or loss but it is how we deal with it that defines us as individuals. A glimpse at the difficult moment of another person’s life is merely an exploration of the emotional limits of ourselves.

Are you obsessed to this subjects?

It is a subject that fascinates me, there is always more to learn about how we deal with our own lives and understand others. As I learn more it will hopefully empower my work. I feel it is a normal and natural way to live life and improve as a person. What else is there?

What do you want to pass on others or what is your aim with picture?

I am always seeking to communicate emotional complexity. There is not one political objective but in producing realist work that questions what we see I would like to think that can inspire an audience to take that sense of uncertainty away and see the world from more than one angle.

What does it mean portrait for you?

There is such a fine line between success and failure in the pursuit of a portrait that has the merest glimmer of insight or resonance. The sense of complete loss at missing a moment is only partly compensated by the extraordinary thrill of capturing a moment that may have some potential. On a very personal level walking that line is very exciting; failure and success drives me to produce something better.

What is your method when you work with people?

The human subject is always the intangible; there are skills you can learn and develop to bring out certain behaviors but I am never complacent, whilst we share some cultural characteristics, there are no two subjects alike. It is important not to over plan a session; an environment can be contrived but I leave the relationship with the subject to chance, people never respond well if they feel controlled or have too much understanding of what to expect.

Can you explain your style of art and photography? Where do you seek inspiration for your art?

The production of an image is influenced by my level of understanding of the world at that moment. As I develop and learn as a person, the way that I view the world changes and what I am drawn to photograph evolves, or rather how I photograph changes. I find working in the UK important, I have lived here all my life and that qualifies me to have a relatively developed sensibility. I am conscious when abroad not to allow my work to be infected by a British ‘post empire’ view. Whether in your own country or another it is important not to experience it just from the shallow perspective of what you understand; there is a historical context that pervades into the cultural behavior of all of us whether that be the artist or the subject.

I feel like I view the world from the outside looking in and there is a detachment in the final work; I was adopted from birth and have no understanding of my social or genetic heritage. I have made peace with that and love my family but regardless of how difficult another person’s life is, I see it as more complete. So in this context I seek to understand myself through the lives of others, which, you will be pleased to know has been very successful but endlessly faccinating.

Most of photographer been influenced by some people. Who are your influences?

All. It is impossible for us to develop in isolation, we are hugely affected and influenced by those now and that have gone before, often indirectly. Established ideas about composition are not a result of a natural law they have pervaded into the social conscience from great artists of the past. If we accept this then there are no rules and we can introduce new ways of seeing whilst acknowledging the importance of the past.

My main influences are the soviet social realists, Otto Dix and I consider ‘Crowds and Power’ by Elias Canetti essential reading. Other projects are more refined in their influence; ‘Ron & Roger’ which investigates the lives of same gender couples in London was inspired by the Arnolfini Portrait by Jan Van Eyke and the Hockney/Falco thesis. The series of flying hairless cats acknowledges Dali Atomicus, Philippe Halsman and Jacques Henri Lartigue.

Can you see any risk front of your art? What is the future of your style?

I may have to leave that to others to decide; I have made my bed and am lying in it. I hope that my approach and style has had some influence on the evolution of the conventional aesthetic, that’s a kind of legacy.

What have you done to promote yourself as an artist?

I find it very hard to promote myself, it requires a completely different set of skills but I am learning to have the self confidence to approach more people and express my feelings openly without fear of embarrassment or ridicule.

The artists are always have something to tell the others..That makes them artist ı think…so what do you want to say to the world with your existence?

Perhaps I have answered that Pinar? Do you think? Or do you need more?

What “Women with wireless” tells us? What is the story of this picture?

The electrode hat is part of a test for brain function. When the subject is shown images on a screen the hat sends the information to a program that records the brain function and can analyse the subject response.

This diptych isolates the technology from its usual environment and presents it as an object on an elderly model. The work explores the surreal nature of modern technology and challenges the notion of science evolving beyond our ability to comprehend it reminiscent of animal testing or early astronaut technology

Do you like to do post-production on your shoots lot?

No I enjoy the original process of light falling on a flat service to record what is seen in life. Any post production is within the bounds of analog techniques. I prefer not to ‘tidy’ too much especially as my work plays with the concepts of documentary whilst not being authentic. The mess adds an element of realism that is quite persuasive.

Can you please tell us little bit about your ” Ron & Roger” project? Because this is very sensitive subject in Turkey. Maybe will give some idea to the people in my country!

I think sharing my views about human sexuality to a Turkish audience would be hugely patronizing and an insult to your intelligence.

Whilst we can be surrounded by elements of repression and control, we will always find ways to be free. No society is truly democratic, sometimes I think the closest we have come to democracy in the west is the choice of products in the Supermarket or who to vote for on TV talent contests but freedom of thought is possible.

Acceptance of sexuality is a bi-product of a society that celebrates the diversity of the individual, alienating a single part of society represses everyone.

The law in the UK allows for the exploration of love between the same sex but this doesn’t stop the violence and hate towards those that choose to live their lives out of the shadows. An off duty policeman with his male partner was kicked within inches of his life only last week.

The couples in this series of images have bravely come forward and demanded a more equal society for everyone but it can be at a huge personal cost.

One of your interview you are saying that ‘I like it if people are in a bad mood,’ Why? What did you mean by this?

No, I said I didn’t mind if they were. I am interested in capturing an emotional state whatever that is. I maybe answered this in more detail earlier. I am careful how I express happiness in my images. The celebration of life has been rather hijacked by the advertisers so I’ll stick with more complicated emotions that nobody else wants.

How long have you been an artist for?

I think it is an epithet that has to be constantly earned.

End of interview

View interview on Fotoritim

Back to Quotes & Articles