Shoot the Breeze: Chris Wright Evans

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The proliferation of photography via technology anticipates a world in which everything is documented. Put another way: everything is waiting to be photographed. Until something is rendered through and upon the medium of photography it arguably doesn’t exist, since the photograph is an essential standard for a consensus on truth. However, as more of the world continues to be captured we discover that much of what is documented is mindless, repetitive, and totally redundant. We ache a little bit, I think, for the world as it is dragged through lens after lens, flicked through upon screen after screen; that is, not for Sisyphus, but for the boulder and the hill, whose essence is desecrated in a story of human meaninglessness into which they have been opportunistically thrust. I’m talking about travel photography. Thankfully, as Chris Wright Evans shows, any trope can be inverted to form a new grammar. It’s not travel photography, but pictures of people traveling, trapped in the abstract space between ‘here’ and ‘there.’ And it’s refreshing that we can’t call these pictures intimate, since not only are they are created by a method akin to hunting (like a lot of photography), but, more importantly, because they show people in moments of real mortal vulnerability which, whether we care to think about it or not, is always a mere instant away. 

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How would you describe your photos?

My photographs are explorations of shared places — places where there is a draw for people to go and take photos. Specifically, I am interested in the often staged, pop culture images that are used to describe places recognized formally or informally as tourist destinations. Such images offer insight into the relationship a culture shares with a location — and what relationship the owning culture wants to portray about a location to those living inside and outside of that culture. In my current body of work, Cultural Heritage, I act as both tourist and photographic ethnographer, experiencing the culture of tourist destinations, concentrating on the world outside of the frame of the iconic descriptions of place. Then placing that work and my experience of place under the microscope to analyze the systems that cultures use to preserve, reinforce and strengthen iconic images.

Do you carry your camera with you everywhere you go?

I generally always have a camera with me, but whether that means my cellphone or something more substantial is another thing entirely. There are days where I intend to make work and I plan accordingly— but for the day to day I may use something lighter, less valuable or rely on my cellphone. In the case of the photograph “Yosemite,” the camera I happened to be carrying that day was the cheapest disposable camera I could find. Despite a quality difference I am happy that I at least had a camera with me.

What celebrity would you most like to shoot?

It never occurred to me to want to photography celebrities, but I am interested by the idea now that the question has been posed. Celebrity/celebrities, probably more than tourist destinations, exist in the mind of the public exclusively as images — as a symbol of something the public prescribes to them. In that sense a head of state or the president would be an interesting subject because they exemplify this process by existing exclusively through images and soundbites standing for the policy they are trying to pass.

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What animal would you like to be, if not a human?

If I were to be any animal I would want to be a mantis shrimp because they have the most complex eye structure of any other animal on the planet, allowing them to see the widest spectrum of light. In this scenario I hope I still have the consciousness and mental capacity of a human so that I could enjoy it.

What’s your current obsession?

My current obsession is using plaster of Paris to make casts of foot prints. I guess I have been watching too many detective dramas, and fancy myself an ammeter sleuth.

Would you like to live forever?

No, I don’t want to live forever, but living for 1000 years would be fun, and maybe by then I would change my mind.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

The best advice I have been given came from a professor who encouraged me to understand that it is okay to take a break and to take care of myself. That the function of an artist isn’t to constantly create, but to preserve yourself so that you will be able to produce and create more effectively.

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What do you do in your spare time?

In my spare time I ride my bike, swim, and go to yoga. I also do a fair amount of Netflix chilling, movie watching and coffee drinking. More than any of those things however, my spare time is when I am able to get my photographic work done.

Do you like having your photo taken?

I don’t necessarily love having my photo taken, but that being said I know I will be happy to have the photographs later for posterity. You can’t win.

Which photographers do you like right now?

The photographers I am interested in right now come from a collective out of Austin TX., Lakes Were Rivers. They produce works for group exhibitions and they also curate shows. Overall a talented group of artists but the work of some individual members —Barry Stone, Mike Osborne, and Anna Krachey to name a few — always seems to give me inspiration for my photographic practice.