Sigri Strand's In The Shade of Night explores the film still as a medium
It has been a long and winding road for photographer Sigri Strand. Beginning her bachelor's degree program in 2001, she found herself living in New York City for a while before finishing her studies in photography at the University of Colorado Denver a decade later in 2011. That same year, Strand was accepted into the Pirate Contemporary Art cooperative. In advance of her first solo exhibition tomorrow evening at Pirate, Westword spoke with the photographer about the intimate relationship her work has to feature-length films, and the role women (and herself) play as subject matter.
"Taking The Stairs," Sigri Strand
Westword: Can you talk a little about the creation of this exhibition, In The Shade of Night?
"Right Before My Eyes," Sigri Strand
Sigri Strand: I've been working on the series for a little over a year now. I was inspired by "the final girl" in horror films and the "femme fatale" character in film noir. With the femme fatale character, I found her to be most interesting because she has so many layers; the "final girl" is just "the good girl" who then turns into a bad ass and makes it to the end of the film.
I liked the femme fatale because I could peel through her layers; I could also bring more of my own ideas to that character because she's been treated differently in different films. I felt like I could make her more current and let her be more sinister than she could have been in films back in the day. I think she's an interesting character to pursue.
I also play with color and light as a way to build anticipation with a still image, versus moving pictures. I'm exploring how to manipulate the audience with one image, while working on bringing the audience just a couple of images to tell a whole story.
What is your relationship to film as a photographer?
I think it's just another facet of my interest as an artist. I started working for the Denver Film Society when I moved back to Denver, which was a happy accident, but it has since opened me up to this exciting storytelling. With my photography, I was always searching for ways to tell stories; usually conceptual stories I had come up with. But in working for the film society, I realized there are already these stories in existence that I can explore.
Now I'm working from the angle of film history, and trying to find what I can explore in that history. Keith Garcia (Denver FilmCenter's programming director) got me excited about film, in general. He has opened up the history to me. Working with him on a weekly basis, I mean, he is full of knowledge. There is always something new he's bringing my attention to.
Is In the Shade of the Night an exhibition with just one story line, or many?
There are a few story lines; sometimes I do a one-off image, working off an idea that only needs one image to tell a story of a whole film I may have had in mind. Sometimes, I need three or four images. Because I've been working on this series as a whole over so much time, I'll come up with an idea for a mini-series within the series, execute it, and come up with another idea.