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An Interview with Photographer Keren Moscovitch
  • January 12, 2014 : 23:01
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Keren Moscovitch is a New York City based photographer whose work has been featured exhibitions both in the US and abroad. She has also been featured in publications such as New York Magazine, Descry, Time Out New York, Visual Arts Journal, Industry and Vogue Nippon. Collections include The Core Club, The Noble Maritime Museum and the Kinsey Institute. Her monograph, "Me into You," was published in the summer of 2012, featuring 35 images and an essay by Allen Frame. She is obsessed with people's secrets, especially the ones that take place in the bedroom.

Playboy.com: Your project, “Me into You,” is described on your website as being “a depiction of love, intimacy and sexuality as contextualized within an open relationship.” What initiated this series?

Keren Moscovitch: The project started with a relationship that I was in that was monogamous and then became open.

Playboy.com: Did it become open because someone cheated and you decided to stay together anyway?

Moscovitch: No. It actually became open through a lot of conversations between me and my partner in terms of what we were interested in exploring and what kind of life we wanted to live. So it was like, okay, we’re going to make the boundaries of our relationship more permeable with the intention of getting to know each other on a deeper level and also exploring connection with fewer boundaries. So that experience kind of predated the work. And then I started making the work about the experiences.

Playboy.com: So then how did your project go from being a show to becoming your Kickstarter-funded book, Me into You?

Moscovitch: I’d made the work and I was shopping it around and at a certain point, though I had some interest in it through some galleries and publications, I realized I wanted to have full control over how the work was distributed and how it was received. It’s great to have [my work] on walls but I also wanted people to have a more intimate experience with it. And the book form is really the ideal way of doing that. So the Kickstarter campaign was really the way to fund the printing of the book.

Playboy.com: Do you think it’s more private for the viewer to look at a book? No one’s necessarily watching you watch the images that way.

Moscovitch: Absolutely. I’ve had work from this series in auctions and shows and there’s a certain niche group of collectors interested in owning it, but the main thing that started happening when people were confronted with the work is they wanted to talk about it. It’s a catalyst for discussions about sexuality and about intimacy. And having a book that has the entire series, you’re able to engage all of the images, even the ones that are difficult to look at or are challenging to think about, as a whole package.

Playboy.com: And you’re controlling the whole narrative.

Moscovitch: Absolutely. The individual images are important and definitely stand on their own, but the book format is very important for people who are interested in experiencing the work on a more multilayered level.


Photo: Keren Moscovitch

Playboy.com: When you create work that’s based on your life it can be hard to get to that part where it stops being confessional and begins to be a project with its own legs, something you can have some distance from. How was that transition of going from “I’m talking about my life” to “I’m making a project that says these things”?

Moscovitch: There’s always a symbiotic relationship between my critical eye and my personal expression. At this point in my career I’ve been making work for long enough that I can’t divorce myself from the critical viewpoint.

Playboy.com: How did your subjects feel? Did you have to have a lot of discussions about taking photos of them in these intimate moments? Did they worry they would become more of a project than a partnership? Did they wonder if it was going to go beyond a personal relationship into something a bit more distant? It must be tricky to navigate.

Moscovitch: That’s a great question. These relationships have ebbed and flowed both throughout the project of shooting the work and since then. I’m very fortunate that all of the people involved in the project trusted me enough to let me do my thing. There were definitely conversations that took place. For me there’s a collaborative element to any work that I do with any human being. And when you’re doing really intimate work then that collaboration is heightened responsibility. Certain people didn’t want certain aspects shown or certain body parts shown and I was really conscious to respect those boundaries. But I also found that, for the most part, people really surrendered to me. And I feel so fortunate. I realize how much of a gift they gave me and what a risk they took, opening themselves up in that way.

Playboy.com: How long into the polyamory until you started taking pictures?

Moscovitch: Not long into it. There was a period of time…maybe the first six months to a year where I was not making any work and just living my life and navigating this new terrain that I had entered and only having the capacity to really deal with what was in front of me and learn who I was going to be in that landscape. Once I got my sea legs and started seeing patterns of personal attractions, I realized that there was a story to be told that was really greater than the sum of its parts. That’s when I started taking pictures.

Playboy.com: Is it empowering to work on this kind of project?

Moscovitch: It’s definitely empowering. To say to the world, “Look at the minefield of emotions and sexuality and socialization and taboos real human beings are navigating.” And say, “Maybe this isn’t for everyone to look at, but I’m going to tell this story whether you like it or not.” There’s definitely a part of me that feels rebellious: “You don’t want to look at that? Well I’m going to ask you to look at it. You know why? Because everybody looks at it every day when they have sex. Or everybody looks at it every day when they’re masturbating.” Why can’t we feel more free to talk about sex? It’s something that everybody does in some way, shape or form all the time.

Playboy.com: So you want to step it up and show some underbelly.

Moscovitch: There’s an idea of what a sexually empowered woman looks like and a lot of times [that image] is not really it. There’s something about showing vulnerability that can be a lot more empowering than acting like there’s no vulnerability there. So for me, vulnerability is power. For me, vulnerability is a place where we can really absorb a lot of energy from one another. And to be able to show the process from a place of weakness that is actually softness or a place that may seem like confusion but is actually the start of an exploration, I think is really cool because hopefully it gives people a bit more of a license to open themselves up to a variety of experiences and also a whole gamut of what feels right and wrong—that it’s not always such a black-and-white experience.

Playboy.com: So is vulnerability still somehow taboo?

Moscovitch: I think that there’s a language around sexuality that has been approved of by society and if you’re not using that language then you’re seen as taboo. Think of Lena Dunham with her body. Well, most women look like Lena Dunham, you know what I mean? There’s something about the way sexuality is packaged and aestheticized and linked to fashion…my sexuality couldn’t be further from fashion. It’s so not even in that realm.

See more of Keren Moscovitch's work (NSFW): kerenmoscovitch.com

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