The process of moving is not merely a physical chore, but often a wicked psychological challenge. It can be tense and difficult to document, especially if the transition involves leaving your childhood home. MJ Katz, an LA-based photographer, did exactly that.
For So Long, a collection of photographs she took of herself at her childhood home, MJ addressed her deep conflicts in the night armed with not much more than a flashlight and a camera--and still made it look like a high budget cinematic shoot. I went to look at the show at Infinity Room last week.
Everything, from the suspended prints to the lock of hair artfully placed next to the guestbook, had an intimately personal vibe with a professional, refined edge. It's as if attendees were stepping into MJ's own narrative, or remembering her dream with more than just initial viscerality.
MJ is a recent graduate of Art Center College and Design in Pasadena, where she studied photography. I was lucky to accompany her to several shoots, and on a few occasions be the subject of them. Shooting the So Long series, MJ was unaccompanied in the middle of the night at the construction site of her childhood home during its period of being remodeled into its current state. The only source of light MJ lit herself with was a basic flashlight: during long exposure self timed photos, she interacted with her half-deconstructed home in the nude and illuminated herself, looking like an exquisite ghost haunting a West LA film set. The difficulty of the project contributed to its highly evocative and transporting qualities.
MJ Katz captures the transitory momentariness with grace and tact. The work is both instinctual and logical. It fuses elements of the surreal, the visceral, and the ethereal. Her trademark moodiness and melancholy is present in these images. The artist herself explained that when she notices a sense of loss, she wants to capture it.
The way it is curated within the space also lends itself well to interactivity.
The description on Infinity Room's website reads, "Her work is made eerie by nature of its transitory state from dwelling to ruin, capturing a site in the process of losing its quality of home by no longer providing a safe space for the artist. A butterfly no longer needs its cocoon; a ghost fulfills its haunt; MJ Katz says “So Long.” "
So Long will be up until Saturday, Nov 5th (gallery hours 1-5PM) followed by a closing reception with food, drinks, and music at 7PM.