Douglas Friedman is Cultured
We know that in its purest form, art is about communication. But the adept artist can do so much more. Each piece of work is the beginning of a moment with the audience, a captive moment, and it's up to the artist to use that time well. To communicate the ideas of the project is the base goal, but the artist can go further and construct an entire emotional story in that still moment (or moments in the case of living media or motion). In this way, every moment with an artist can become part of an infinite exhibition, engaging the audience without end, challenging them, provoking them, even teaching them.
For the cover of the latest issue of Cultured Magazine, Douglas Friedman photographed artist Dustin Yellin. Dustin is best known for his gigantic sculptures that dance through enclosed space. First he applies thousands of paper cut outs onto pieces of glass constructing a sort of slice of the final piece. Then he layers them together creating a full three dimensional work. This kind of work requires a vast amount of workspace, something that Yellin has secured for himself, and immediately adjacent to that he’s created an exhibition space, the Pioneer Works Center for Art and Innovation. “It’s an incredible creative complex he’s built out in Red Hook,” Douglas says. “Besides the fact that his studio space is such an incredible creative factory, he is such a fascinating subject to work with.” That fascination made some exciting images.
“I did not ask him to drop his trousers” Douglas announced, without cue. But that doesn’t mean it was uninvited. Must of Douglas’ work features his subjects revealing something that they normally don’t show, and this is by design. Douglas explains: “There’s so much imagery that’s created these days so to kind of encourage a little bit of a wink. That little something extra is what makes the picture that much more interesting to look out. You can see how much more exciting the picture becomes when he does something unexpected.”
To get the cover image, Douglas worked with Yellin’s assistants to provide the feeling of Yellin’s work spreading into his own space. They applied a dozen or so elements onto Yellin’s glasses, and for Douglas it was an initiation into Yellin’s process. “The amount of work that goes into one of those pieces… The time and the effort and the energy and the thought is overwhelming to me,” says Douglas. His own work as an interior photographer employs a similar discipline, moving pieces in his composition, sometimes by the half inch, to ensure they create the image that displays exactly what he’s going for. In many ways they operate in the same process, to similar ends, but at different magnification. “It becomes a bit of a meditation,” Douglas explains. “What a wonderful opportunity to lose yourself in that process to the point where you’re not aware of your phone or the noise that we’re constantly bombarded with on a day to day basis.”