Well, my name is Katai and you pronounce that like kay-tee. I just turned 25 and I live in Montreal. Right now I'm working towards my BFA at Concordia University in Photography. I'm a bit of a creep, and a bit of an escapist. Most of my work comes from a connection between those places. I try to work out the formation of mental objects visually, because they're more comfortable to deal with that way.
How did you discover photography and what makes you keep on doing it?
I've been really into taking pictures my whole life, but I realized my artistic interest in high school. It's not always easy to keep doing it. Especially now when convenient alternatives seem to be consuming the more mechanical or traditional alternatives. But aside from the frustration and problems that seem inherent to the medium, there are so many things that encourage me. I get really grumpy at school sometimes, but as soon as I lock myself in a darkroom and get involved in the routine of developing or printing for a few hours it becomes totally cathartic. I like the tedious nature of photography, I like old cameras with a million steps to remember, and that feeling of being alone in the dark, or behind the camera. Photography is full of so many interesting dichotomies. I'm primarily a portrait photographer so I constantly rely on the presence of others, yet I feel like it is also such a solitary process-at least right now, for me. I could probably answer this question forever, photography is so interesting and complicated and I have a weird relationship with it.
Is there anything you want express with your works?
There is, but it is not a constant or singular thing. My images, especially if I'm working in a series, are typically a form of therapy to some degree. I don't know if they make me “better” so maybe therapy isn't the correct term, but my images come from a personal, often unsettled place. I don't mind if the ideas I put into my images are mistranslated by my audience, though. A lot of interesting observations have been made by outsiders. I think their perspectives drive the work really, after it been made it is those interpretations and reinterpretations that keep it alive. Anyway, I think more than anything I work from pretty vague emotional places where an attitude or atmosphere is what I am trying to express.
If you could be one age forever, how old would you be?
Well, this is not an easy question! I have always said I loved being 19, but who knows why. I don't really care about how old I am, I always feel like myself and some days are better than others regardless of my age. I love being young, it affords me endless opportunities, but I also look forward to sitting on a porch all day when I have white hair so, I don't know! Could I just say that I want to live forever? But only if my cat will too, and a select number of friends and family.
What can most easily make you laugh?
My boyfriend, even though he feels nerdy and like I never laugh, I do! Also really stupid basic stuff, like people suddenly falling down or getting squirted in the face with their food. I fall down myself quite often, but not as much as one of my closest friends, who constantly entertains me with her fumbles. I really like witty movies and television shows, things that are funny because of their references to other things, or plays on language. Satire-like The Simpsons. A really good story, my dad can tell the hell out a story, and have you in stitches or tears. Also, my cat, because she is ridiculous.
What are your hobbies besides photography?
I really like collaging, and sometimes I draw and paint. I'm hoping to do more of that this year at University, since I'm taking some time away from photo classes to return to my roots. I also really enjoy politics, and debating, although I don't think I have many friends who enjoy indulging this hobby of mine. I also love crafts, and I'm always inspired by new weird things to glue onto my clothes. I can't afford designer clothing or anything so if I really like something, I try to make something similar myself if I can. After I moved to Montreal I acquired a plant obsession out of no where. I'm terrible at keeping them alive, but it's fun to try. Right now I'm nursing two African Violets and an Orchid which has three blooms and 6 more on the way! I also have some dill and basil which I planted from seeds and they're just sprouting now. I'm a proud mama. I should also say I have an Aralia which despite my efforts, keeps having yellow leaf issues. If anyone knows anything about Aralias, let me know.
What do you expect from your photographic future?
I expect a lot of myself. I would like to one day be able to work and travel, and have a home base here in Canada. If working in fashion can afford me those luxuries, that would be ideal I think. Fashion and photography are two of the most powerful ways in which I express myself, or behave transgressively, and it would be a dream to live my life doing that. I don't know what my path will be, right now I'm working on refining my work to exist in a contemporary photographic field which is difficult to do, especially when I have these ideas about fashion photography on the back burner all the time. I work a little bit on myself, and my work every day, and hopefully it will get me to a place I can be satisfied with at some point.
Thanks to: Katai Stienstra