I went to go visit Paul Mpagi Sepuya on a cool day this past winter at his studio in the Boyle Heights area of LA. In one room, test prints, book mockups His desk and a big printer filled the space. In the other, a Russian plywood bench, a big mirror on the wall, a velvet curtain hanging and a camera on a tripod. He suggested we do the interview in that room, the set where many of his photos have been made, and maybe somehow, maybe the setting would provoke more interesting conversation. The items in that room are the elements in his photographs, and they all have significance in relation to his interests in portraiture, but what I found equally as interesting was the economy he used with those props in order to produce varieties of different, complex images. Nothing about his picture making process is really fancy, but that simplicity allows him to roam around in, and complicate the frame.
In the past few years, Sepuya has really been on a roll - he’s had work in Moma’s most recent New Photography exhibition, is currently in the Whitney Biennial. He’s had had numerous solo shows, most recently at Team Gallery in New York and his photo Darkroom Mirrors was featured on the cover of Artforum’s March 2019 issue.
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