Interview: Benjamin Fredrickson for Supplementaire #15 #NSFW

In Blog, Interviews, Nudes

As part of the recent Supplementaire #15, our #SEXissue #SEXbook, we asked contributor Cully Wright to interview artist Benjamin Fredrickson, represented by Daniel Cooney Fine Art in New York. Benjamin exhibited in NYC recently and we share with you some of the Not So Safe For Work images below (discretion advised) along with the full interview. Print & digital editions of the issue are still available.
PRINT: Supplementaire #15 #SEXISSUE: £26 + FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING + 2 free prints
DIGTIAL: £2.99 *PDF is uncensored *available now

INTERVIEW
1. You’ve created a window into the formerly taboo subject matter of sex workers and that subculture, do you feel this exposition will ultimately help or hurt the acceptance of an industry that has been, and will always be around indefinitely?
This project for me is more about the exploration of queer identities, and my personal experiences within the queer communities that I have been fortunate enough to be a part of. Sex work is a part of my story, that’s about it. This is a photography exposition about humanity, sexuality, and my work as a human explorer.

2. Help me (and our readers) understand this series? The why’s and the how’s and the who’s?
I have documented my life in photographs. Intimate details and encounters as I grew up as a gay man discovering himself in the Midwest, and later New York. The project began in Minneapolis around 2005 and continued after I moved to New York City in 2010. I was interested in exploring my queer community so I began to photograph friends, acquaintances, johns and strangers that I met online (before social media apps). The men that I was meeting and photographing didn’t fit into the stereotypical hetero-normative mold of a gay man that I was seeing projected in the media at that time.

I studied photography in the traditional sense, working with analog formats, shooting on film with medium and large format cameras. That formal training in photography has influenced my creative process ever since. The Polaroid format works for this specific project in that it speaks to a time in the history of photography when the creation and distribution of nude and explicit photographs was illegal. Today it is no longer illegal to create and distribute these types of photographs.

My appreciation for the Polaroid format is not only for it’s historical context but for the photographic process itself, creating a one of a kind unique photograph that cannot be repeated or deleted. By using a cumbersome large format camera I create one Polaroid photograph at a time, first I consider the subject , and then carefully create the composition, before making the final photograph. It’s ephemera and it’s evidence.

3. Have you had any really negative reactions to this or any work you’ve done in the past?
There are people who like my work and there are people who dislike my work. I don’t pay attention to negativity, it’s not healthy. I choose to only focus on what makes me happy. Making photographs brings me great joy and I share the work that I am proud of with others. I’ve been fortunate enough to have positive reactions to my work from audiences that appreciate my photographs.

4. Who has been largest influence on your work?
Life experience has been a major influence for me, and on my work. Artist’s who are honest and truthful with themselves, and have the courage to share their work with others, have been a large influence as well.

5. I looked up your fashion work, it’s creative and beautiful. Your portraits have a rawness to them and a realness, how long had this particular project been in your head and why did you choose now to execute it?
Thank you so much. I enjoy creating fashion photographs, and love the creative process that comes along with it. My approach to creating fashion work is the same as when I create a personal project, but only from a technical standpoint. The difference with fashion work, you are working with a team, the creative director, hair and make-up, and the talent. It’s fun to work with a group of talented creatives to create beautiful photographs on a deadline for a magazine or catalog. It’s really rewarding.

My portraits are authentic and un-retouched, I choose not to use a veil of perfection by digitally altering or manipulating a photograph in post-production. Any altering is done to remove dust and to match the colors on the screen to that of the actual photograph. I appreciate authenticity in photographs and strive for it myself.

When I am photographing a subject for a personal project the setting is much more intimate and the results reflect that connection and interaction. The photographs in my debut solo exhibition at Daniel Cooney Fine Art, are from a project that spans ten years. It’s a beautiful thing to see a body of work grow and mature, over time. As for the timing, it was intuitive, it felt right to share the work at this point in time.

6. How authentic are the scenes that you’ve created? Were they staged or really happening naturally in that moment? or both?
All of my work is authentic. These are real situations that actually happened. Sometimes the shoot would be set up ahead of time, naturally, and other situations were spur of the moment. In “Bandages, 2007” I wanted to explore texture with fabric in a photograph, I asked one of my fuck buddies at the time to come over. I wrapped him in beige bandages and “mummified” him, I laid him on my bed that was covered in a black latex sheet. The juxtaposition of the matte bandages against the shiny latex worked well together, in my opinion. In, “Group, 2014” I was house sitting at a place in Queens, I invited a friend over for dinner and before I knew it he had guys from Grindr coming over . They ended up having sex on the couch. Very unexpected and sexy at the same time. It was supposed to be a quiet evening but transpired into something more exciting. Both situations needed to be documented and I’m so happy that they were. There are eighteen photographs and situations presented in the exhibition.

7. Whats the ideal next project for you?
I am looking forward to the future, creating new work and exploring new ideas. Stay tuned!

Visit:
www.danielcooneyfineart.com/fredrickson_photography.html

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