I am always surprised at all the things people read into my photos, but it also amuse me. That may be because I have nothing specific in mind when I'm working. My intentions are neither feminist nor political. I try to put double or multible meanings into my photos, which might give rise to a greater variety of interpretations...
Once I set up, the camera starts clicking, then I just start to move and watch how I move in the mirror. It’s not like I’m method acting or anything. I don’t feel that I am that person. I may be thinking about a certain story or situation, but I don’t become her. There’s this distance. The image in the mirror becomes her—the image the camera gets on the film. And the one thing I’ve always known is that the camera lies.
When I was in school I was getting disgusted with the attitude of art being so religious or sacred, so I wanted to make something which people could relate to without having read a book about it first. So that anybody off the street could appreciate it, even if they couldn’t fully understand it, they could still get something out of it. That’s the reason I wanted to imitate something out of the culture, and also make fun of the culture as I was doing it.
I didn’t set out to establish an alternative. No one really did—expectations were a lot lower than you see with people coming out of art schools today. I did want to do something different; I was bored by what was going on in art and particularly in painting, but I didn’t think I was actually going to make a difference. We all would have been happy just to have a show somewhere.
I have this enormous fear of being misinterpreted, of people thinking that the photographs are about me, that I’m really vain and narcissistic. Then sometimes I wonder how it is I’m fooling so many people. I’m doing one of the most stupid things in the world which I can’t even explain, dressing up like a child and posing in front of a camera trying to make beautiful pictures. And people seem to fall for it.
It’s the one face you look at every day your whole life. But of course you are looking at yourself in reverse so you never actually know what you look like. Photography can be similar. I remember an early boyfriend. I thought: he is just so handsome, and I would show a picture to somebody and they would not see it at all. In a still photo you only sometimes get the essence of a person. I have always been fascinated by why that happens.
Truthfully, I’m a little sick of these pictures [the Untitled Film Stills]—it’s hard for me to get excited about them anymore. It’s funny to see some of them now. Throughout my life, I’ve tried to keep looking different, so my hair has been all different colors, all lengths and styles. As a result, a lot of these characters look like me in the periods of my life since I shot the Film Stills... Occasionally I’ve felt that as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to look more like some of them. It’s kind of scary—I was always trying to look like older women.
When I’m cooking, I’m just following a recipe—I’m being told what to do. When I’m working on my photographs I have to make up my own sort of rules. Sometimes I have a vision of what I want but mostly I’m guided by what I don’t want. I’m happy to make mistakes; making photos is more like playing than cooking is. I wouldn’t want to eat what I made just playing with cooking ingredients, but sometimes the mistakes in the photos are better than what I had in mind.
I’ve just started to learn how to do things on the computer, like taking somebody’s head off and putting it on top of someone else's body. Little operations like head transplants. Using the computer can be like drawing or typing—an obsessive action that you do with your hands. I’d been thinking of it as a way to fix technical mistakes.
I want there to be hints of narrative everywhere in the image so that people can make up their own stories about them. But I don’t want to have my own narrative and force it on to them. And it shouldn’t seem so real that it looks like it was shot in a studio today. I want it to transcend time somehow.