An Interview with Ridgewood, Queens-based Artist India K

We talk inspiration, work habits, and overcast days with artist India K. 
India K-Photo 5

Viewing your recent work, one of the first aspects I was struck by was color–lots of baby blues and muted, bubblegum pinks. These aren’t shades I expected from you, and I’m curious as to why you chose them. Are these colors you naturally gravitate towards?

It’s funny, for my entire life, I was never drawn to colors like that ones you describe. I grew up hating pink, pastel clothes, and I still do actually. But what I’m realizing is that what intrigues me in imagery doesn’t reflect or go along with what my own personal preferences are always. And I’m realizing they don’t have to correlate at all. I love that. The photos I am taking now are the first time since high school that I am just photographing without prior intent; leaving college and losing “assignments” was the best thing that could happen to me because it’s making me see everything in new light. Right now, those soft colors and delicate objects are attractive to me.

There’s this wonderful feeling, particularly in your polaroids, that you’ve captured moments in time and staged nothing. To what degree are your photographs planned, and to what degree are they organic?

I rarely plan photos. I actually get stressed out if I have to set things up, make them look good, think of everything. I would rather just shoot like crazy and then see what happens after. Maybe that isn’t the greatest tactic but it sure is fun. 

I’ve noticed that in your photos, you seem to have a thing for (beautifully) capturing corners. Any ideas as to why?

I started noticing that recently too. I’m not sure I have an answer. Usually if I take a photo of one, it has something to do with the way the two walls meet in the middle. Maybe it’s the colors, maybe it’s the light.

Your recent collage series was GREAT. I loved the bright, chirpy backgrounds paired with the random/dark nature of the texts, and I think you totally got at the frivolity and weirdness that can be exchanging texts with friends. I’m curious how you yourself feel about these pieces–are you satisfied?

I can never be satisfied, so no I guess ha. They were super fun for me, and unlike anything I have ever made. I think they still need work and refining, but the initial idea is there and I’m excited to revisit it again.

In your photographs and polaroids, I had this feeling of resonance–yes, I’ve been there, slept in that ikea bed, drank that iced coffee, dangled my feet out that window and seen that totally defeating dead fly. I felt the same for the collaged text conversations, and was curious what the general reaction is to your work from people in their 20s, and otherwise. I’m assuming most people find much to connect to?

It’s the most flattering thing to me when people pull their own experiences out of my work. I think that’s really, in the end, what I want to happen. I just want you to get this feeling.
In terms of connecting to things, I think the place I have seen this the most and in the most concrete powerful way is Tumblr with my installations. I will never get used to seeing my work with 40k or 50k notes on it as I scroll through my dashboard. Like, that means that 40,000 people understood or liked something in it enough to reblog it. It’s just a click of the mouse, it’s the easiest gesture in the world, but it’s a gesture. And that’s huge to me, that people are taking action. I love that I write words and people see them and think “I get that.” That is so fucking cool.

What’s the most bizarre (to you) inspiration you’ve ever had for a piece of work?

In college I watched “The Shining” way too much and the scene where you see that, like, bear or bear suited person giving someone a blow job or something in a room? Yeah I made a photo project about that. It was weird. I think I lost the negatives. 

As I get older, it’s fascinating to see how my own work (mostly as a writer) develops and improves. It’s something you can’t rush, and can’t force. In that vein, I’m curious what you’ve learned about yourself as an artist as you’ve gotten older. Any insights?

One thing that comes to mind immediately is that I am solitary in my work. As someone who is extremely extroverted, I’m always surprised when I want so badly to be alone to make new work. I really love curating my space, getting my supplies out, making something. It’s a ritual. For the past couple months I have been waking up at 6am just to photograph my installations alone.

Living in New York, how have you felt your work has been supported? Is it an easy environment to work in (financially, creatively) or is it challenging (over-saturated, expensive)?

It’s both, definitely. Overall though I feel immensely supported. The community I’ve found myself in here is amazing. Lots of awesome inspiring women who have essentially been the people that push me to make so much work. It’s a prolific time for me and I think that reflects upon the community I have here.

To follow up, I’m curious whether you prefer to work on the east or west coast. How do they differ in terms of the environment they offer you as an artist?

It’s hard for me to answer because the last time I lived on the west coast, I was eighteen and hadn’t taken a photography class yet. But when I am back out west and photograph or make something, my work feels more scattered, more random. I guess this means I’m an east coast artist? 
Oh but, I really miss San Francisco for superficial, photo reasons: those overcast days! So many of them. I took them for granted. And now I have this effing sun to deal with.

If you’d be so kind, could you possible name some:

Favorite writer(s)
Oh man, so many! Joan Didion, Nicole Krauss, Anne Tyler, Megan Mayhew-Bergman…and I can’t not include Don DeLillo.
Artists you respect
Right now, super into the work of my peers. Grace Miceli, Morgan Maher, Molly Matalon, Caroline David, Maggie Dunlap, Lena Joy Whittle…I could go on and on. 
Ways you’d never want to die
I never want to be eligible for a Darwin Award, which is to say, I hope I don’t die because of some dumb mistake I made. 
Places you’re dying to visit
Everywhere I haven’t been yet would be the right answer to this, although right now I’m very much wanting to see Nepal, Brazil and Alaska. 
Pieces of yours you’re most proud of
I don’t know if I have one.

And just because I think you’ll enjoy it (and I’m curious what your divinely unique mind will dream up), could you free associate with the following terms in whatever ways you wish:

Lena Dunham: superb
Jack White: heartbreak
haircuts: surrender
Brooklyn: okay
grandparents: unique
caffeine: dream

Thanks to India for answering our questions! To see more of her work, check out her website and tumblr.
Here are some examples of India’s most recent work.
India K-Photo 7
India K-Photo 2
India K-Photo 3
India K-Photo 1
India K-Photo 6

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