Project Release: Antone Dolezal and Lara Shipley, "Devil's Promenade"

fototazo publishes new photography projects, providing an early look at images from selected artists. Today's Project Release is "Devil's Promenade," a collaborative project by Lara Shipley and Antone Dolezal. It is accompanied by a short interview between the photographers.

Shipley currently lives and teaches photography in Lawrence, Kansas. She is an artist who primarily makes work about people and their relationship with the out-of-the-way-places they call home. Her work has recently been exhibited at Northlight Gallery in Tempe, the John Sommers Gallery in Albuquerque, Project Basho in Philadelphia, The Newspace Center for Photography in Portland and the University of Arizona Art Museum in Tucson. Her photographs and writing have recently been published in GOOD Magazine, the British Journal of Photography and Fraction Magazine. She received her MFA from Arizona State University.

Dolezal is a New Mexico based artist and writer who primarily makes work about the American social landscape and its relationship with history and folklore. A solo exhibition of his project "Ghost Town" was recently on display at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design and his photographs have also recently been seen in group exhibitions at photo-eye Bookstore in Santa Fe and Rayko Photo Center in San Francisco. Antone's work has been published in Oxford American, PDN's Emerging Photographer and Fraction Magazine and his writing has appeared in photo-eye, Fraction and Ahorn Magazine. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the College of Santa Fe in 2006.

Antone Dolezal: When we started this project a few years ago I remember being excited to travel back to the Ozarks with someone else who spent their childhood there. It is a place rich with tall-tales and a thoroughly documented oral storytelling tradition, and because of that it has always been a magical place for me. I have these vivid memories of camping with my father out there and hearing some wild stories about the place… the Spook Light being one of those stories. The Ozarks are centered in a beautiful landscape, but there is also a very haunting and mysterious culture that lives within that landscape. What was your relationship coming back to this place and what did working on this project mean for you?

Lara Shipley: Without being overtly so, this is a very personal project for me. These images are made from near the region where I grew up and this project marked the first time in over ten years that I have spent a substantial amount of time there. The mood is inspired for me by that scary/bored feeling of driving around wooded roads at night with nothing to do. Of parties in the woods and days by the river, experiences that marked most of my teen years. I know the project is personal for you in a different way. Even though they are very different memories, I think there is a similar desire to recreate a place from our youths, a place that is exaggerated and colored by time spent away.

AD: Because this was such a personal project for both of us I feel like it took a lot of trust and faith in the other person to work together so closely to tell this story. I know we joke around that after doing this for so long and working so closely we are a well-oiled machine. How do feel that our collective vision came together to create this body of work?

LS: Pretty easily actually. Being from the area we are fascinated by the response to this unexplained phenomenon and what that response says about the people who live there. We only work on this project together. By making it a totally shared experience I think it is easier to make sure we are moving in a similar direction.

Working with you I feel free to experiment and play around. Together we create a comfortable environment for taking risks. It is frequently more playful than the way I work when I'm on my own. The whole time we are working together we are also talking about the work and what we want to get out of it. This process makes me feel more clued in to what I want from the project and where it is going. From the beginning we were having conversations about what final form the work would take, but we also have let it change and evolve. Both of which have been great.

AD: Yeah, for me the biggest factor in the success of this project was each other’s ability to step outside of our comfort zone and take risks making photographs we weren’t sure would turn out on film. Previous to this project I had been working on one body of work for more than four years and working with you jolted me out of a lot of my old habits, my thinking about how I make images has changed significantly since.

It was also a much safer situation for us to be a team. There is a photograph you took of a cabin in the woods at night. We had a few terrifying encounters with the man who lived in that cabin and knew we had to include our experience somehow photographically and taking his portrait was no longer an option. I remember building up the courage to hike over from our campsite and set your camera up for a really long exposure and then hike back after we were done. I’ll never forget some of our adventures.