Could you introduce yourself?
My name is Isa Benn and very little matters to me, conceptually.
What’s your life philosophy? How do you try to apply that to your work?
My life philosophy is that life is a grand and holy thing. I am grateful that I have had chance to participate in it. I am grateful for all I have been given, had to take and will leave behind. I’m very sure I manifest my reality. I am very sure illusions are everywhere. I like to play with the illusion and then the core of my life circumstance. My art is a reflection of a playful love of life and disdain for the idea of art as an activity beyond engaging with your life, without thought - as in, without ego.
Could you tell us what you think makes you stand apart in the art industry?
What makes me stand apart in North America, specifically, is my ability to laugh at what is, basically, a spectacle of egoic debauchery without the goal of enlightenment, inner peace or even a general happiness. I think the awareness of that, the ever presence of that, makes me a much different person on all levels. I don’t really think about industry outside of the sociology of my culture.
How would you describe your photography style? Do you feel like it reflects you?
Everything I do reflects me. Everything I don’t do reflects me. Everything I say reflects me. Everything I don’t say reflects me. Everything I think reflects me. Everything I don’t think reflects me. My art is definitely a reflection of me. Anyone and everyone’s is. If it doesn’t make you cry, laugh, nod in understanding then I wouldn’t even call it art because I wouldn’t call that reflection. I’m not sure I have a style. I definitely don’t want one.
Do you prefer staged over candid photography, or vice versa? Mind telling us why?
I love life. I love to capture experience. I like to create my own narrative, exactly, and watch it fall apart in the planning. I also like to capture the narrative of the candid world, and see how it so closely reflects my narrative-- the collective narrative. Any photography used to capture how you see the world, would like to see the world is fine with me. The style seems meaningless without the intention, and so, only intention really matters to me.
Who are the individuals in your work? Friends, family, strangers?
I mostly photograph myself. I used to photograph everything. Now I realize photographing myself is photographing everything and whatever I photographed, I saw myself in. I do love to capture the people I love. More of a morbid fascination with their death though. That all moments are transient and death is eminent is what motivates me to photograph anything, anyone…
What are a few tips for other photographers that might be reading this, that you could give when it comes to photographing others, and directing the shoot?
Don’t be boring. Don’t care about the final result. Don’t be a dick. Fuck your ego. Take photographs because you’re alive and that’s what makes you happy or sad or think or not think. Nothing is that complicated. Do not be deterred.
Do you have any rituals you do before you start your creative process for a new project, to get your mind and energy in the right place?
I wake up.
What’s a typical day for you?
I wake up and then take it from there. I don’t even mean it facetiously. Literally, that’s my daily routine. Beyond that, the only constant is burning sage, palo santo, and spraying rose water. Also, I’m in love so, we eat together and hug.
What are some of your goals for 2017?
My goals for twenty seventeen are to implement the life lessons learned in twenty fifteen and twenty sixteen. I want to enjoy every moment from here on out. I want to walk away and never think about again, the dull, the boring, the time consuming, the unfun, the lack of depth. I want to frolic right away from that shit. I want to steer directly into love and presence and gratitude and emotional growth, inevitably.
What makes you happy?
Very little, when I’m sad. Everything, when I’m happy.
Any closing comments?
Thank you for asking me these questions. I love questions.