Across a prolific career, Mona Kuhn has produced a beautiful and varied body of work, but with a singular vision at its core – to explore what it is to be human. She’s known for developing close relationships with her subjects which is apparent in the remarkable intimacy she creates – a gentle ease the subjects exhibit with her and her camera. A simple, uncompromising naturalness, more than surface deep.
In her later work however, she’s introduced other elements. Mirrors and glass act to blur and distort, reflect and layer. And desert scenes add a vastness at odds with the close connections between artist and model. It all acts to paint a thoughtful picture of humankind, of its complexity and density, that questions more than it answers.
We’re honoured to have Mona as our judge for ‘The Human Body’ as well as for our ‘Series Award’ later in the year. Rather than interview her ourselves, we thought we’d invite one of our community to do so, and as the photographer responsible for one of our favourite winning Life Framer images last year, Ebony Finck seemed like the perfect candidate. Her image in question comes from a beautiful series ‘Juncture’ which has parallels with Mona’s work – questioning the body, mortality, memories and the fleeting nature of life. We present questions from an artist at the start of her career, to one at her zenith.
Ebony: Your work is truly inspiring, the portraits you create portray such a raw genuine emotion, could you describe your creative process in developing your imagery?
Mona: I always start a new series quite simply by imaging colors first. Once I have a palette in mind, I then start creating a vocabulary around it. My creative process is mostly intuitive. I am quite comfortable in letting my curiosity guide me. I prefer to tap into what I don’t know, and go from there. Photography has always worked for me as a form of visual poetry
Ebony: The development of your work can span over years, what is your process of refining a photo series for an exhibition?
Mona: Aside from the relationships with the people I photograph, invariably, music also comes to mind. I use photography as a way to bring balance to what I was experiencing. I am still trying to figure this out, I love to look at the large exhibition prints and let my mind wonder. It is hard to define, but at a certain moment you know the work is complete and ready to be brought into the public light.