Interview with Artist Ricci Candé for her series "Taste"


With "Taste" we are featuring an artist who can help us celebrate the end of summer, with all its fun & sensual delights! Join us on August 22 for an opening celebration!
Jen: Tell me about yourself, what's your story? 
Ricci: I went to art school and studied for my BFA in photography, specializing in portraiture and conceptual film photography.  My work has always been personal, intimate, sexual, voyeuristic, and somewhat uncomfortable. Through the years, my practice has progressed from documenting flagrant, open sexual practices, to sexuality in more subtle and intimate ways. Through discussions and my photographic work, I found that I myself was intrigued by the voyeuristic idea of subjects ‘performing’ for me, and that I myself am a voyeur. This manifested itself in several ways: the desire to document subconscious sexual arousal, and interactions with the subjects that provoke it. I seek out ways for my subjects to 'perform' for me, and also implement myself into the work somehow, usually physically, or symbolically.  Since sexual imagery is extremely sensitive, I enjoy trying to find the balance between flagrant and subtlety within my photographic practice.  
Jen: Tell me about the pieces in this show, Taste. What was your inspiration? What were you thinking of? 
Ricci: With this series “Taste”, I asked people to eat popsicles while I photographed them. I sincerely enjoyed the idea that something so ordinary (and a child's treat) could be taken out of context, and converted by our own subconscious into something sexual. The project itself became a study on the subjects’ own comfortability with sexuality. I used men for the first project. I found ten men that were comfortable enough to eat a popsicle while being photographed, keeping only their chin to the bridge of their nose in the frame. The men, I found, were more mocking. They made homosexual commentary, flagrant oral sex jokes, and devoured the treats very quickly.  For the second project, I chose to do the same thing but with women. The women ate the popsicles, to be frank, very mundanely. I ran into issues when I tried to photograph children eating popsicles. At first, I thought this was a shame, because I thought it would really hit the nail on head. However, the fact that I had a hard time getting consent from parents, demonstrated my point even more so. Popsicles in context are confectionary treats that are made for children. When eaten by adults, they become ‘surrogate dicks’ and lose their innocence. After the viewer sees these adults eating popsicles with sexual imagery in mind, would they feel the same gazing at a wall of children doing the same thing?  
Jen: Tell me about your process and the materials you use to create these pieces. 
Ricci: They are digital archival prints that I flesh-mounted on foamcore and metal.
Jen: Of the 18 photos represented in Taste, how many are the same person? 
Ricci: None.
Jen: Do you know them? 
Ricci: Some, Yes.
Jen: Did you ask any strangers? 
Ricci: Yes. The strangers were actually more inclined to be photographed than the people I knew. 
Jen: How many people total have you photographed eating popsicles? 
Ricci: Upwards of 40.
Jen: How many did you ask and who said no? 
Ricci: For this particular project, I asked about 30, and 6 said no. The six that said no were people I had slept with or had sexual tension with. Not ALL of those people said no, however.
Jen: How did you choose these photos to be the ones to display all together? 
Ricci: Based on color of popsicle, on bite, lick, the way the popsicle was positioned in the mouth, on teeth, and on how well the popsicle was balanced between the line of mundane act and flagrant sexuality.
Jen: You mentioned it being hard to get the permission of parents to photograph children! How else did you think about age/gender/ethnic representation when you put together the grouping?   
Ricci: To be frank, those are not things I think about. I think of people as people, and my complete and number one concern was to make sure each and every individual gave me consent to be photographed, and was comfortable in my presence doing what they were doing. The rest was and is usually secondary. Sex and this kind on intimacy is often a new vulnerability for people, and it is my job to create and keep that space safe and professional for them. That is my main focus. 
Jen: When did you know you wanted to be an artist? Do you have any early creative memories? 
Ricci: I've always been an artist, passionate, emotional, visceral, ultra creative, and sensual. Any other way of life is foreign to me.
Jen: Where are you from? What about the places you've lived or visited inspire you? 
Ricci: I'm from the PNW, but I call Oakland and the East Coast home. I don't think it's the places I've lived but the people I encounter that inspire me. I'm inspired by sexuality, intimacy, and every New Yorker that matches my warm directness. 
Jen: Analog or Digital? 
Ricci: I primarily shoot film. The popsicles are Digital.
Jen: Do you have any creative or artistic role models? 
Ricci: Tracey Emin, Robert Mapplethorpe, Nan Goldin, Rhye, Larry Clark, Jenny Holzer, Tracey Emin, Marina Abramovic.
Jen: What are you excited to work on next? 
Ricci: I am primarily a florist and am working on a project that fuses flowers, women, and intimacy. It's a wonderful fusion that I am  fully throwing myself into.
Jen: Is there anything else you'd like to share about your work or your creative life? 
Ricci: I hope my work makes you feel as deeply as it makes me feel. 

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