Snap! Artist Q & A: Barry Kirsch

by cris on April 10, 2011

Curious to know the story behind some of Snap!’s most eagerly anticipated exhibits? Tonight we’re launching a new 4-part Q&A series with this year’s featured artists. (One every Sunday evening for the next 4 weeks.) We’ve asked them some questions and then we’re opening up the comments section for you to ask them some questions. So let’s get the conversation started!

First up is local photographer Barry Kirsch, who agreed to kick off our Q&A series with some back and forth about his recently completed exhibit: The Murder City Project (a 24-image art noir photo series that will have its world unveiling at Snap! Orlando).

Snap!: The Murder City Project is an art-noir photography series. How did the idea for the project come about?

BK: I got the idea after hearing a shocking statistic back in 2006 that noted Orlando as the city with the highest increase in per capita homicide rates. I thought “My gosh, I’m living in a Murder City!” And the idea took seed from there.

Snap!: The 24 images in the series are all shot with a very stark and distinct b&w style. Much of your commerical work is notable for its signature color saturation. What about shooting in stark b&w felt right for The Murder City Project?

BK: I opted for b&w to remove the distraction of color. I wanted to keep the focus on the content of each image. I did include one singular color element in every image, however: a gold pocket watch. It serves to accentuate the image, tie the images all together via one common signature element, and to make the point that homicide happens 24-hours a day (each image in the series is titled with a time: 24 images, 24 hours, one image for every hour in a fictitious day).

Snap!: A portion of proceeds from The Murder City Project will benefit Central FL CRIMELINE . Why was this important to you?

BK: While I hope to make an impact of changed awareness through this project, I also wanted to make a direct impact toward reducing violent crime and since the crime rate in Orlando prompted the project, giving back at the local level made sense. As The Murder City Project grows and begins to travel, I hope to expand the number of organizations it can help. But supporting CRIMELINE will always be part of this project for me.

Snap!: The Murder City Project is making its international debut at Snap! Orlando this year. You also used a lot of local Orlando residents in the series (vs. professional models). Was anchoring the project in your own local community deliberate or just logistically necessary?

BK: Using every day residents (vs. models) was very deliberate on my part. I wanted direct community participation in getting the message of this project out because the issue (violent crime) affects them directly and CRIMELINE is an organization we all actually count on to help keep us and our community safe.

Snap!: A photo series of staged murder scenes might initially seem irreverent or even irresponsible to some viewers. What is it you hope the audience will feel at first glance, and is it the same feeling the exhibit hopes to evoke by the time the last image is revealed?

BK: As a former career photojournalist, I’ve seen all kinds of god-awful things happen to people. And I am always astounded by the complete lack of response from the larger population if it isn’t directly affecting them. There is a disconnect. The effort to affect change makes people feel uneasy. They’d rather be entertained. The 60″ by 40″ images in The Murder City Project are stark, hard to ignore, and deliver my message in a manner that is hard to misconstrue. At the beginning of the experience, people will be captivated, titillated and pulled in. Once there, the final image makes a statement about the complexity of the violent crime issue and will hopefully evoke discussion about how (unlike the images themselves) the issue of violent crime is never black and white.

See the world reveal of The Murder City Project at Snap! Orlando.

Have a question for photographer Barry Kirsch? Post it in the comments section.













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