Anna McNay

Interview with Alexander James


James: interview

James (b1967) is a photographer with a difference. Rather than capturing the
moment spontaneously, James creates intricate sculptural compositions submerged in huge tanks of purified water as the object for his camera. The
effect of light passing through, heightened against a darkened background,
gives the resulting images a painterly appearance, recalling Dutch vanitas
still lifes. This blurring of boundaries between photography, painting and
sculpture renders James’s works uncategorisable as well as eerily beautiful.

Six months ago,
James, who is usually based in London, moved his entire studio to Moscow to
prepare for his current exhibition at the Triumph Gallery. Arriving not speaking a
word of the language, he made his home and studio in a 250 sq metre space in the Red
October, an island in the centre of the city that, under tsars and later Soviet
authorities, housed a chocolate factory, but is now a hub for contemporary
art. Working with live models suspended in water, the new works he created in
situ develop many of his earlier themes, which were greatly inspired by John
Millais’ Pre-Raphaelite masterpiece Ophelia
(1851) and Paul Delaroche’s
La Jeune

James found
time to speak to Studio International about the process of relocation and
creation, just after the opening of his exhibition,
Rastvorennaya Pechal (Dissolved Ennui).

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