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Interview with Renée Jacobs


The recognized and rewarded photographer Renée Jacobs is the actual cover of Interference Channel, interview with Diego Aretz.

-It’s a pleasure to have you in Interference Channel Renée. You are our current cover and this interview is part of our interest in your work …When one have an artist like you one thinks what kind of questions to ask ¿Woman is a strong subject in your work, but  What is woman for you?

Diego, first thanks for your interest in my work. I am pleased to know that I have fans in Colombia. I hope to some day visit, shoot and exhibit there. The most amazing thing that I’ve gotten to experience in my work is the diversity of women and their desires.  To me, the most revealing thing is to totally re-examine roles of feminine sexuality when women are not being judged.

-You feel connected with any tradition in photography? I’m thinking in Vivian Maier or contemporary American photographers like Annie Leibovitz.

My main influences are the French photographers from the beginning of black and white photography. Kertesz, Brassai, Lartigue, Boubat. The photographers of nudes that inspire me are Weston, Ralph Gibson..

-What things happened this 7 years, Since your return to photography in 2007? What you think of your work this years?

When I first started shooting again in 2007, I had been a lawyer for 15 years. I pulled out my old film cameras for the first time in many years. It took me a while to start shooting in digital. I had never previously shot nudes because I had been much more interested in photojournalism. I started shooting nudes as a way to infuse some beauty after many years of being a lawyer.  I had no idea that it would grow into my life’s work and that I would get to meet so many amazing people from all over the world. Now when I reflect on the last 7 years since I’ve started shooting again, I can’t believe what a great ride I’ve been on. Such a thrill. My Slow Burn book was reissued in 2010. In 2012, a monograph of my work edited, sequenced and with an introduction by Jock Sturges came out from Galerie Vevais and then they published my PARIS book the next year in 2013. I got to do solo shows in Paris, Tokyo and Bangkok, be included in group shows, magazines and anthologies around the world. I’ve been very fortunate. Of course, the biggest joy has been meeting all of the women that share their stories and let me photograph them.

-Now I remember your book about Centralia “Slow Burn“, What memories you  have  now, how you see that work in retrospective.

Slow Burn was a history in interviews and photographs of a small coal town in Pennsylvania facing imminent destruction because of an underground coal mine fire. It was an ambitious project for a twenty-two year old right out of college. I am still enamored with good photojournalism and think always about iconic photographs that have altered or captured the course of history. I’ve had the privilege of meeting a number of Pulitzer winners and I’m awed by them. Personally, I’m more moved to photograph beauty instead of hardship these days. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to appreciate more deeply the comfort of art and beauty.

-You also portrait photographers and artists, figures like Shelby Lee Adams or Araki. How you approach these portraits?

I’ve been lucky enough to interview and photograph a number of people in the photography world that I admire. I spent a night in Tokyo singing karaoke to Araki while he photographed me. One of his photos of me from that night is in one of Araki’s books. I also got to photograph and interview Lillian Bassman–an icon of the halcyon days of fashion photography–and Charis Wilson, Edward Weston’s wife and muse.  Legendary photographer Douglas Kirkland is a friend and a neighbor and I got to interview him as well.

— Galerie Vevais published your new book “Paris“, tell us something about it…give us a glimpse.

Alexander Scholz is an absolutely brilliant publisher in Berlin. His books are not simply photo books, but lovingly crafted works of art in and of themselves. He helped me realize my dream of photographing women in Paris and put together a lovely book. I’ve got a new book coming out–a zine with Editions Bessard that will be a collection of 30 images with an introductory text from  Douglas Kirkland. I’m also working on  re-issue of a self-published book of 4×5 polaroid nudes and a follow up to my Paris book about Italy.

-You told me about something in LA, When this will be?

There is a big launch party for my Paris book here in Los Angeles on April 26 to follow up exhibits and launch parties we’ve had in Paris, Tokyo and Bangkok

-The beautiful photograph that is our cover right now is also full of nostalgia and full of questions; How was the process of this photograph? There is any name for it? Who’s the man with the long shadow? and of course…Is that dreamland city really Paris?

I am delighted you made that your cover. There is a story behind that photo. Again, this was in 2007 after I had not shot in a very long time. I took my film cameras to Paris with me, mostly as a vacation. I hadn’t started shooting nudes then or digital. That photo was just complete happenstance….I was crossing a bridge and saw someone on a bicycle coming down that road. I was  mesmerized and waited for over probably 30 minutes for another bike but alas, it was just that one solitary figure. I like it because it does represent the qualities that you mentioned… Quiet, solitary reflection in a city of beauty. I generally don’t name or title my photos, so no, the photo doesn’t have a name.♦



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