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Interview: Christian Michael Filardo

Interview: Christian Michael Filardo

Christian Michael Filardo is an artist working within the mediums of film photography, collage, music, and more. Christian has traveled extensively and lived in multiple locations across the world, including in the Philippines, China, and throughout the United States. Christian graduated with a bachelors in fine arts in performance and intermedia arts from Arizona State University, and now lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico. View more of Christian's work on his website: www.christianfilardo.com.

Untitled 35mm photograph from the unreleased 2017 series Voyeur's Gambit.

Untitled 35mm photograph from the unreleased 2017 series Voyeur's Gambit.

L.E. Brown: So tell me about your work.

Christian Michael Filardo: My photographic practice revolves around my everyday. I carry a 35mm film camera on me at all times in hopes that I come across something that interests me. When I was living in Baltimore, I carried around a little Nikon digital camera because I was walking everywhere and would always see fascinating things in passing. I’d find myself wishing I could preserve these objects or moments as a document. After moving to Santa Fe, I made the switch back to film. I’m really inspired by a lot of fashion photographers these days. I feel like my practice focuses mostly on inanimate objects and mundane moments. To a certain extent, I want to make these moments extravagant—like a fairytale—and let the moments and images work together to create their own mythos.

LEB: Why do you use the flash so heavily in all of your photographs?

CMF: I like to make images that are flash-heavy with very saturated colors. I use the flash all the time when I’m shooting, day or night. I do this because it helps to create a universal vibe: it’s oppressive, violent, and very much on purpose. Each image can be entered into the same aesthetic conversation if you use the flash in a specific way. I also like the idea and historic emphasis that the flash places on photojournalism, fashion photography, and crime scene photography.  

Untitled 35mm photograph from the 2016 series Temperance.

Untitled 35mm photograph from the 2016 series Temperance.

LEB: Would you say your art is for art’s sake? To document the process of making art?

CMF: No, I wouldn’t say it is art for art’s sake, but I would say that the documentation of the process plays a big role in my art making. I feel as though my relationship with my camera is a performance in a lot of ways. When I get behind the camera, I become a character. This performative aspect is inescapable and represents a lot of my process. Often when I am photographing, my friends will take my picture, and the voyeur's role changes. That shift is something of interest to me.

LEB: Even though you used to photograph digitally, why do you mainly use film in your work today?

CMF: I found that when I was photographing digitally I just kept looking down at the little LCD screen to see if the picture was good. Fleeting moments would quickly pass me by while I was looking at that little screen. It felt a lot less free, and to me, this way of shooting started to become less aligned with my photographic practice politically and emotionally. Not to mention I think the color quality of film is something completely unique to the medium. Depending on what film you use through what lens, the results are completely altered. For me, this is a very intimate magical equation that didn’t really exist in my digital practice.

Untitled 35mm photograph from the unreleased 2017 series Voyeur's Gambit.

Untitled 35mm photograph from the unreleased 2017 series Voyeur's Gambit.

LEB: Why do you think you’re drawn to thematic subjects of the everyday and the ordinary?

CMF: To me, being drawn to these mundane monoliths of everyday society is important because we exist with and around them at all times. In a small way, I worship these everyday things. I find beauty in them because they’re such a large part of my life. And although they’re not necessarily exciting, if you look at them a certain way, they can be. These objects are all subliminally loaded with context because they exist within our contemporary society. It also ties into the art historical theme of the still life. And focusing on random objects on the street or in a landscape slows you down and makes you focus more on your surroundings.

LEB: How frequently do you take photographs?

CMF: I try to take at least one photograph every day. However, I find that the frequency in which I make pictures is dependent on my mood, the weather, my surroundings. Travelling to new places inspires me to make more pictures. If I’m drunk or on drugs, I might make more pictures depending on my emotional state.

Untitled 35mm photograph from the 2016 series Temperance.

Untitled 35mm photograph from the 2016 series Temperance.

LEB: Do you see any overlap between the different mediums that you work within, for example, film, collage, music, performance, book arts, and so on?

CMF: Definitely. I feel like they’re all very freeing because they give an artist the opportunity to explore very abstract concepts. There’s a big difference in the immediacy of these mediums, but they’re all connected. To me, taking a photograph feels like a performance within itself. Every time you take a photograph, you’re connecting and interacting with the subject. You’re an observer but also a part of what’s being observed. There’s an abstract relationship between yourself and the subject and your surroundings that you don’t always consider. I focus a lot on photography because the process of making a photograph is really rewarding. There’s a sense of intimacy and a lot of work to get the right shot. For me, this process is pure joy. It’s pure hilarious bliss. Running around with a camera is the best thing ever; it’s just so fun. And it’s nice to have fun.

See more of Christian's work on his website: www.christianfilardo.com.✶

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