London photographer Kevin Morosky shows us a gentler side of himself in his new online exhibition Start A War. A single song of the same title about the complicated nature of relationships inspired the whole series of up-close-and-personal photographs, and made Morosky bring to life the images he had in mind when he first heard the song. Starting from scratch with two people who hadn’t met each other before the shoot, Morosky exposes his ability to delicately capture the intimacy of a present-day couple, on the unageing medium of film.
Having shot a number of well-known artists, the photographer opens up about his working philosophy and the special process for the exhibition series. We speak to Morosky about how he likes to keep things simple and traditional when it comes to photography.
DazedDigital: Tell us a bit about Start A War. How did it all start?
Kevin Morosky: I have a lot of musical friends, one of them being the band We The Committee. When Pat from We The Committee sent me their track ‘Start A War,’ I played it and just thought "wow" – I know what that feels and looks like. Naturally, I just started thinking about how I could interpret my friends’ work, how I could be a part of it.
DD: Can one song inspire a whole photo set? If so, is this the first time you felt so deeply inspired by a song?
Kevin Morosky: Yes, it can. Nan Goldin did it with ‘I'll Be Your Mirror’ by The Velvet Underground, or on the other hand you have a song like 'Clair de Lune' by Debussy, which is a depiction of a Paul Verlaine poem. When someone creates something, or in this case writes a song that sits with you so well, that you get to thinking you yourself wrote it, there’s no way you can't be moved. Personally 'Start A War' is one of the best love/break up songs I’ve heard. I’m just the type of person that if I love something I show it, not just tweet or like it on Facebook.
DD: Starting a relationship, living it, breaking up. Trying to find your true self again. Is there personal reference in your work or do you like to keep your private life separate?
Kevin Morosky: I hope and try to make everything I do personal. I wrote this poem/rant ages ago, it starts with these lines. "Messy when I met you & you met me. Blood on windbreakers from the hearts on our sleeves." That’s me through and though, I get stuck in and leave a bloody mess wherever I go. I’m very passionate. I hope that bleeds through my work. You should be able to tell through my photographs that I am a person who loves the messiness of love and loss.
DD: The intimacy between your models seems to be captured beautifully. How did you choose your models for Start A War Morosky? Are they in a relationship? How do you create the intimacy between them, and between you and the pair?
Kevin Morosky: When I started planning it I knew that I was going to use models, not real life couples. The point of me creating this is creating a story, from scratch. If I just used a real life couple there wouldn't have been much for me to do. When I heard the song I thought, "I’m gonna make my own version of this." I just wanna make a set of images that cuts in and out of a relationship, a snap shot.
When casting, I knew I wanted Ricky Hall. He was the only option for me. The girl on the other hand - I had no idea! I just thought about what I wanted and let it come to me. The next day I got a follow on my Tumblr from Ellis Cooper. It just fell into place, and again there was a challenge in working with her. The images we created are so far removed from her normal work. I constantly test myself in that respect. I think you need to constantly test yourself in your chosen art. Look for the challenge, face it. In regards to intimacy, Ricky and Ellis got on fine, they are both amazingly nice people. Me with them, I’m very good at making people feel at ease and welcome. I'm normally the class clown on shoots.
DD: Do you still shoot on film, preferring lo-tech equipment? What equipment do you use? I assume, as for many analogue lovers, it is important for you to stay this way. (Correct me, if I’m wrong.)
Kevin Morosky: I prefer film. Film is so important. There is no back tracking and deleting. Each picture is, and I think should be, a freestyle. Don't get me wrong, for some fashion things my hands are tied so I have to make a certain type of picture that I call a 'Cheryl Cole' image. By that I mean it’s all for show and perfect looking, no real depth, it’s about product. So for personal images and projects that I’m asked to lead on, I go with film mostly. My main influence has always been Biggie Smalls. He didn't write things down he just felt it out, effectively rapping freestyles. I said it before and I'll say it again, I couldn't rap like that but I can snap like that. Some of my best loved images were shot on Boots disposables. It’s the simplicity of it all; it’s the tradition of it all, down to the weight of a film camera. It just feels natural.
Why did you decide to make the whole exhibition look like a standard exhibition – on for a limited time, with an exhibition book- just one detail changing the perspective; all online?
Kevin Morosky: I’ve been thinking for a while how can I make something that will allow me to spread my work like a mix-tape? I figure this is the closest. You can look at this exhibition on your laptop or smartphone world wide; if you have an iPad you can download the body of work for free. The book has links to everyone involved and my other work. You can tweet it to someone if you wanna recommend it, Facebook it, it goes on and on. The traditional elements I kept are me trying to hold on to some structure in this digital age. If I didn't, then what would be the difference between this being an online exhibition and a large blog post? The other part to me doing it this way is that I love tradition, so in a way this is me bleeding through my work again. When you bleed through your work it needs to be in every detail, not just the image but the presentation, the title and so on.
DD: Any future projects you’ve been working on?
Kevin Morosky: I have a few mini projects, then it’s Christmas time, so I'll stop work and be up north with my husband’s family being the only black in the village. I’ve been documenting Billie Piper for the last two years, so I think that will be my next show. Then more video work and directing, next year is mainly about launching the GLV creative agency.