Interview with Gabby Laurent
Gabby Laurent works with performance and photography.
She plays out scenarios to express her internal emotion via gesture and repetition with great power and humour, intuitive to finding momentum in the movement.
Tell us about these serie of images ’Burden’
The Burden work depicts my mother picking me up in various positions, exerting strength and perseverance to keep me supported. There's a dark humour to the struggle and the absurdity of the act, heightened by the repetition in the work. I wanted the work to be a comment on the relationship between parent and child, looking at dependence and interconnectedness that continues past childhood.
The pain on my mother's face is visible in some frames, the physical burden apparent.
What do you believe is the power of representing women as mothers today?
I think it’s important to represent mothers as a productive part of communities as caregivers and providers.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your book Falling that is being published this June?
‘Falling’ was work I made in relation to a lack of control and letting go, I relate to that in many areas of my life at different moments, but this in particular was instigated by sadness and grief. Like the pregnancy work or pictures of my mum picking me up, and performative work in general, theres a symbolic power in gesture, which is something I’m very drawn to, making my internal world physical.
Can you describe one artwork or moment that you feel was pivotal in your career, and can you describe the circumstances leading up to this?
I think finding the work “Evidence” by Mike Mandel and Larry Sultan. Understanding that photography could be conceptual, funny, intellectual rather than simply a representation of what was in front of you. At that time I was so relieved to find the work of artists using photography in the 70’s, people like Ana Mendieta, Helena Almeida, John Baldessari, John Divola.
Do you have daily routines or rituals that help you get into work mode? And have your approach and methods changed since you became pregnant?
I have less of a routine around my work life since having a baby, I’m caught between trying to accept that and trying to impose a schedule. I think being a parent has made me more focused on work when I am working. I’m definitely more intuitive to what’s important.
Who do you discuss your ideas and future projects with?
Ideas start as quite an insular process, I have to start the process of making before sharing too much. But then my partner, Dominic, is integral to the making, editing, etc. He has a history of working in galleries and with artists so is incredibly helpful in that regard. There’s no-one’s opinion that I value more.
Does your art making require a studio, do you have access to a private space to reflect and develop and execute ideas?
I think it’s important to have guilt free time that you can be with your own thoughts. I do have a studio and I find it so important to have a space that is separate from home where I can focus. It’s a place where I can make work, or draw, or read - sometimes it’s hugely productive and sometimes it’s not, but for me it’s important.
Sometimes the most poignant and progressive work comes out of simply just doing, just making the work whether the conditions are right or not.
What advice would you give to artists entering parent hood?
To take time and not put pressure on yourself. Also, not to try and work while also looking after the baby - you end up feeling like you aren't doing either role well. Also, don’t be scared of not making work for a while.
Could you see yourself as a mentor to another artist?
Sure. The community of art and creativity is beautiful and mentoring and teaching is at the core of that I think.