The young photographer studies strange occults and delves headfirst into the unknown.
Kristopher Keith Helton is a young photographer with an interesting life and outlook. His photos are strange occult studies that really force you to take a deeper look into the unknown. Dazed Digital traded instant messages with him and through those exchanges we got to know Helton and his style, one that walks the line between tortured visionary and party animal. It balances out in his work, which is equal parts fear and loathing in Las Vegas mixed with tales from the crypt.
Dazed Digital: What are your photos about?
Kristopher Helton: I'm interested in myth, death, religiosity, youth, immortality/mortality, the idea of "good and evil" as a joint concept the power of an image or maybe the lack of it, esoteric things, darkness.
DD: Whats your photography background like?
Kristopher Helton: I'm totally self taught, I have no background, opportunities keep coming my way and I just continue with a vision for what I want out of this medium.
DD: Do you think digital photography has made it too easy for photographers?
Kristopher Helton: If anything, it has made it more difficult. I think that the ease of use and the lack of restraint required with digital photography can allow for excessive, thoughtless documentation of the mundane. This new dynamic in photography, insofar as 'art' goes, I think acts as a great barrier between trash and redemptive work.
DD: If you could make a music video for anyone, living or dead, who would it be and what would you do with it?
Kristopher Helton: I think SWANS in the 80s. I would use the trashiest digital video equipment and cast Prince as the protagonist. i'm thinking lots of meat strung up on hooks, soaked with glitter in a church. He would be walking a town plastered with Elvis memorabilia. Lots of 80s lightning crawling across peoples skins. I think he would be very lustfully looking for the ghost of Cyndi Lauper, finding heaps of gross orange hair in dumpsters filled with meat. I think it could eventually turn into the movie Desperately Seeking Susan starring madonna. Maybe a sequel.
DD: Where are you from? What was your childhood like?
Kristopher Helton: I'm from Miami Florida, my childhood was pretty hellish, poor single mom + missing dad, neurotic relatives, most of my uncles were in prison for dealing drugs, went to live at my grandmother's house when my mother had cancer, which was massive, she was married to the mayor of the town at the time. The house had a huge orange grove, pool, fishable creek running through it. A+ living. I had a little Mickey Mouse camera at the time, everything in Florida is fucked up over Disney.
DD: There seems to be a lot of occult symbolism in your work, what is it about that that draws you to it? Baphomet etc.
Kristopher Helton: I think any point of dialogue with someone else. That is going to be as detached as looking at a photograph, you have to kind of embed some kind of invisible content, but maybe leave a compass in your work to show it's there. Iconography, symbols and all of that are a way of me blatantly recommending maybe further observation on a subject or image for one beyond that I guess some of it is more personal. Signifying or attributing my own meaning to someone or someplace like suggesting a mood, usually mystery.
DD: What are some of your favourite works of art?
Kristopher Helton: Three studies for figures at the base of a crucifixion by Francis Bacon, is something that I've been obsessed with when I first met eyes on it, I have huge prints of it in my room. Francis Bacon's stuff in general, the Popes. Right now out of contemporary stuff, Gerhard Richter and Anselm Kiefer are huge favourites.
DD: What are your dreams like?
Kristopher Helton: Really perverse representations of my 'real' life.. tonnes of solitude shifting walls and hidden doorways, labyrinths in houses there's always an enormous sense of magic in the commonplace.
DD: Is that the vibe you're interested in when people see your photos? Why not shoot beautiful ladies?
Kristopher Helton: I think I am not interested in glorifying beauty at all. I apply nudity and the body as a term or a symbol in a cabinet of symbolism that I am working on building. I am not interested in sexualising something unless maybe i were to become interested in commenting on the sexualisation of things.
DD: So what excites you?
Kristopher Helton: Reading, that kind of communion with the dead, taking solace in other peoples lives and dreams, traveling, hallucinating, sex. By the way, I broach the subject of nudity usually to investigate weakness or solitude, or humility, maybe to strip context away, strip time away, peeling off all the safeties I can, but I think that would require lots of thought, I would have to sit on that question and then render it better than I am doing now with these.
DD: What gallery shows have you been involved in? Whats about the future?
Kristopher Helton: Hmm, I need to start keeping a list of that stuff, but right now the biggest thing on the horizon is going to Montreal I think in November. Daniel Pelissier has set up this year-long project called Young Healers some really fucking good work/good peers of mine are involved one show a month devoted to one photographer, a solo zine and exhibit to promote said zine. I think he's doing t-shirts and tonnes of prints, it's really amazing.
DD: What words of advice would you have for people who want to be visual artists?
Kristopher Helton: Be a plague to the comatose viewer.