Five Questions with Lori Kella: Looking Past the Horizon at William Busta Gallery

William Busta Gallery: Most people take their outdoor photographs outdoors, don’t they?

Lori Kella: Yes I’m sure most do, but I was always dissatisfied with the exact scene in front of me, so I started building  landscapes myself. By creating artificial worlds I can merge different parts of the landscape as well as different places. In  my photographs I create a world that is partly based on the land in front of me, partly based on my memory of another  place, and then I embellish with aspects that are pure fiction.

WBg: But why go through all that effort?

LK: For me the landscape is tied to a whole history, both the history of that place, and one’s own relationship with  similar terrain. I want the viewer to think more about the future of the scene I have created. I want them to think about  what will happen next. So maybe it is a problem with the camera, as one can never photograph the future, only the  present.

WBg: What are you thinking about as you construct in the studio?

LK: In making my photographs I often think of myself as an explorer. I respond to what I have recently seen, then I  expand on that to create an elaborate fiction of what might be just over the horizon. I want to express the duality of the  landscape, both the fear and fascination that it might hold. My photographs present a skewed utopia, a land on one hand vast, beautiful, and enticing, while offering hints that it might at any moment change or fall apart.

WBg: How much of what you do is the building and how much is the photographing?

LK : The building of the models takes the most time, as I construct them anticipating what the image will look like. I photograph the model over the course of a week, and that is the speedy part.

WBg: And how have your explorations changed over the past 10 years?

LK: The work has changed, though some threads connect the new work with earlier images of aerial maps. The early  work concentrated on remote landscapes and photographic imaging devices, so in many respects it was less personal.  The new work shares a similar curiosity about the world, but the images are more painterly, colorful, and atmospheric.