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Discussing Subversion And Surprise With Noah Kalina

New York based photographer Noah Kalina’s ‘Bedmounds’ is an intimate portrayal of life beyond the sheets.

In this ongoing photo project, Kalina takes the viewer into the heart of bedrooms across the U.S., to beds that are occupied by heaped duvets and blankets. The duvets or “bedmounds” that are the subject of Kalina’s work take on anthropomorphic qualities in their bundled form. They appear like huddled figures looking out of windows, leaning towards the light, or at times even shying away from the camera. In this way, Kalina is able to play with the binaries of absence and presence, of existence and disappearance, like a game of hide-and-seek. ‘Bedmounds’ explores the marks our bodies leave in domestic spaces, looking at what is left both literally and metaphorically under the covers. We spoke to the photographer about where he drew the inspiration from for this series and his belief in the subversive qualities of film.

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Where did the idea for ‘Bedmounds’ spring from?

I was changing the sheets on my bed a few years ago and I had rolled the duvet up into a ball and I put it in the middle of the bed. I found the shape of the duvet and the scene that it created really compelling so I took a few shots on my iPhone. I immediately decided to name the sculpture a “bedmound” and decided I was going to start making these on every bed I slept on going forward.

How do you find the locations for your photographs?

Most of my bedmounds are in hotels or motels that I stay at when I travel. I will often research a place to stay that I think will have an interesting duvet and room combination.

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Many of your projects are ongoing, what interests you about this form of documentation photography?

I’ve always been drawn to the concept of time and how you can represent it in photographs. Some of my projects deal with how things subtly change over the course of days, months or years. As a result, I make photographs obsessively, where I capture the same type picture over and over again, allowing each photograph to exist both on its own and in the context of a series.

‘Bedmounds’ is less about a person or place changing over time, and more about capturing an object, in a place, for a moment.

‘Bedmounds’ is less about a person or place changing over time, and more about capturing an object, in a place, for a moment.

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How significant is subversion for you and your work then?

‘Bedmounds’ takes a common scene and adds a twist, subverting what we’re anticipating to see by inserting something unexpected. To me, the best photography utilizes the element of surprise and subversion in this way.

The photographs highlight the relationship between presence and absence — the missing body is made up for by a mound of sheets. How important are these binaries to your work?

In ‘Bedmounds’ absence/presence is a strong theme, but throughout my work I like to play with contrast and balance; a delicate flower in hard light, a model with a soft expression in loud clothing, a seemingly endless expanse of woods that somehow ends when obscured by fog. Featuring these binaries allows me to utilize the full range of possibilities between harmonious and oppositional forces; exploring and photographing this tension excites me and is a recurrent element in my work.

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All images © Noah Kalina

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