Moni Haworth Dual Reference

There’s a cultural link between rural America and outer space. It could be that open skies and idle time lead to increased UFO sightings, or it’s our collective memory of Nevada’s Area 51, Roswell, New Mexico, or the abduction of Barney and Betty Hill  in the 60s. Something about those dusty landscapes, trailer parks, and deserted streets feels uncanny, extraterrestrial. I want to believe. It’s between these two worlds that photographer Moni Haworth’s work intersects.  

Alien abduction claims in rural America were always discredited by the mental health or military involvement of those who made them, and are now a passe phenomenon. And what is creepier than mental health and the US military?  At the apex of alien abduction claims during the 1980s-1990s, children and adult abductees often reported a sensation of being both human and alien at the same time, a condition called “Dual Reference.” Dual Reference is a good way to describe Haworth’s subjects. Captured on a sketchy camcorder, we encounter feral teens, starlets with prosthetic ears and glazed-over eyes, blue-haired alien assailants in the desert. Making her name as a documentarian of the underground punk scene in LA, Haworth’s eye for freaky teens has made her a fixture haunting the mood boards of every major brand campaign of the last few years. Haworth’s recent projects focus on fairies, clowns, aliens, and snarling attack dogs. It’s no surprise Haworth has cited COPS and Live PD as sources of inspiration. Her work begs the question: is life on Earth more frightening than outer space? – CM

What are you most afraid of?
I realized recently that I think I’m afraid of being afraid. I realized that usually the actual thought of something frightening is usually way worse than the actual thing…because when scary things actually happen one’s brain functions in problem solving/survival mode and it’s not the same as actual thinking fear, which is awful. Having said that I’m still hella scared of giant mountains, it’s a weird primal fear!

Your recent work seems to have shifted more into sci-fi, extraterrestrial scenes. What sparked your interest in UFOs?
I spent most of last year lockdown watching Ancient Aliens and Cosmic Disclosure and was in a bubble of wanting to believe….I have been super fascinated by quantum mechanics for many years and the simulation theories and the nature of reality. Quantum physics tells us that atoms behave/appear differently depending on observation. Video games, similarly, only render what you look at when you need to see it…. I think “reality” is somewhat unprovable which possibly allows for more high strangeness than we know. I unfortunately have never witnessed a ufo or anything remotely maybe imagining the experience and shooting it is my only access!

Are you confronting your shadow self? 
Yes but not with work!  In human relationships and just existing in this world, it’s a constant process. I think work for me is outside of that….I need work to excite me, make me laugh and use my imagination. 

Are you interested in inducing fear in your audience?
I never think of an audience when I shoot my ideas. It’s purely for myself, I know what I want to see, and if I get it, that’s enough. If I thought of an audience I probably wouldnt do anything lol….but for myself yes I like the marriage  of horror and humor.

Have you ever had any sort of supernatural or paranormal encounter?
No! Can someone help me have one?

Given the choice, would you allow yourself to be abducted by aliens?
Absolutely I would. 

What is your favourite horror movie?
The Ring (Japanese version) (and Audition) 

What are you working on now? More collaboration with Natasha Romano? 
Yes! Tasha and I have a lifetime of ideas to work on…I feel like even the smallest conversation can open up a labyrinth of possibilities. It’s a beautiful new thing for me to have a concept made into a beautiful physical reality to shoot. Tasha and I love science, mystery, and nature. I guess we both want to make things that are stunning to behold. Not just physically “beautiful’ but stunning for the mind to dwell on.  

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