Q&A with Jesse Boyd-Reid
Jesse Boyd‐Reid is a Melbourne based contemporary artist working photographically to explore notions of intimacy, family and connection. As a participating photographer in PHOTO 2021 Jesse will be presenting a series of photographs in our partnership with the Metro Tunnel Creative Program. We took a moment to speak with Jesse to find out more about the person, the artist and son behind the camera as well as see some of Jesse's other work that won't be presented at PHOTO 2021.
I was lucky enough to be born into a big family of artists, so art and art making was always part of life. Looking back, I see that my initial relationship with photography was an attempt to hold on to things that I knew would pass — I learnt young from a family tragedy that I wanted to preserve my experience for the sake of posterity.
Since I started developing photos at 14, I have been committed but I guess over time, I have gained more confidence. It is a process that still holds so much for me personally.
The idea that photography is objectively truthful is antiquated. Like everything it is subjective. I take a speculative approach in my work — sometimes blurring the lines between real and staged, framing and reframing the things I have seen and sometimes just getting lucky with candid shots. Things start to get interesting when the lines become blurry, and why should we limit ourselves anyway?
I secretly love doing office admin, so I write a lot of grant and funding applications. When I am successful it forces me to follow through on my proposal idea and create the actual work. Never underestimate the cold power of bureaucracy to force you to follow through!
Life is intertwined with art practice. I grew up in Northern NSW so living in the green of the rainforest was a big influence. Now in the city I am still documenting and staging my family and friends pretty regularly. Sometimes that involves ethical questions — witnessing versus exposing… I don’t want my presence with a camera to disrupt the energy of an intimate moment. Luckily, my family and friends support my practice.
I’m currently reading ‘The Lonely City’ by Olivia Laing. It’s a fitting book for a time of introspection such as this.
When my work had to close, I headed to the hills, to my family home in the Northern Rivers of NSW. It’s a great place to self isolate- an old convent turned big queer family commune so there is never a dull moment. It’s a tropical Grey Gardens style of beauty, and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else in a time like this.
I think this moment presents a pretty timely opportunity for us all to slow down for the sake of our planet. I am excited seeing reports of clearer waters in the canals of Venice and skies shining blue again. I hope we can see this great pause as an opportunity to listen to the Indigenous peoples of the world and begin to live more sustainably.
My mother told me that its important to watch the sun set or the moon rise to contemplate your place in the universe. I try to do this as often as I can.