Chad Moore and the beauty of loss

“Beauty is very subjective, there is no way to describe it.” Ren Hang

Chad Moore is Florida born and New York based photographer. His work has been exhibited internationally in solo & group shows at places like Foam Museum in Amsterdam, Marc Berville Studio in Paris and most recently at Galerie & co119, alongside Nan Goldin, Arnaud Pyvka and Juergen Teller. But regardless of the facts and name dropping, what I really want to say is….

Melissa and Sasha (Street Kiss), 2016

This interview is an extension of a private conversation. The conversation was sadly based on loss and pain, but there is certain beauty in pain, and in each loss there is a gain. What the gain was, on this occasion, we have yet to discover, but for beauty, I can assure there was a lot of it. There was also a great deal of irony. The irony of loss and celebration of life at the same time. And Chad, for me, is that irony, in the best sense possible. His work is a celebration of life with a fair share of loss. And loss brings pain, pain brings beauty, and Chad, Chad brings all of that to life. Full circle.

Chad Moore is an awesome human being, whose photography captures moments that mean something. He captures the mood, just as it is. He doesn’t force things to happen, he waits for them, and when they do happen… well then the beauty happens!

When someone asks’s you what do you do for a living, what do you say?

I dislike being asked that. I feel if someone is interesting, that’s such a boring introductory thing to ask. I can talk with someone for hours with that never even coming up. I think that what you do for a living does define you in a way, especially in an artistic pursuit, but when someone asks “What do you do?” from the get-go, it’s like asking, “What’s your favorite color?”. But alas, it is often asked, so I just simply say, “I make photographs.”

What did you want to be growing up?

I’m not sure, actually. I think from the age of around 7 or so, I wanted to ride BMX bikes professionally, which I ended up doing, but later on realized that’s not really a profession and that you can not make a proper living out of it. That said, I did learn a lot from BMX, and it shaped a lot of my values and the way I see the world today.

What was your primary ambition when you first started taking photographs and what is your primary ambition ‚today‘?

I’m not sure if I started with a particular vision. I was just so fascinated with the camera and the magic it possessed, that I photographed every single thing I saw. There wasn’t necessarily an end goal to is, except to be able to do it forever.

Today my ambition is simply to effect the viewer. I like the idea of someone looking at a photo of Emma or Tilda or Clayton or even my dog Stella, and then thinking of how they felt when they looked at someone they loved so much. Thinking of their favorite sunsets, their favorite moments. I want to make people feel, something.

When you do commission work, do you see that work independent of your other work, or does everything you do share a common discourse?

It took me a while to figure out how to approach commissions. I think that you have to understand what you want from a photograph, first. Photography for me is deeply personal and so to figure out how to make a personal photograph of someone you’ve never met, is always a challenge, and it can go either way.

One of the most wonderful things about photography is meeting people and pairing up to do work. Throughout I meet so many fascinated characters. Writers, poets, painters, musicians… I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of my heroes, and sometimes it was magical, and sometimes I wished I had never met them in real life.

But back to your question, slowly, I think, everything I do shares a common discourse. I’ve started to learn how to create the vulnerability that exists in my personal work also in my commission work.

Let’s talk a bit about value. Would you say beauty plays a role in determining the value of photography or is it more about the internal connection, whatever kind it may be?

I’m a deeply sentimental person, so photographs hold such a high value for me. I’m constantly making photographs, some end up being printed, some never see the light of the day, but I look through all my work daily. I make edits for friends, and I reminisce while looking at certain photographs that I find beautiful. Beautiful because of the way they make me feel or think, and that is very subjective, someone else may not see what I see or feel what I feel. But any kind of internal connection is very important to me, and if you give a certain work just a bit of attention, you can feel what the person who took it felt, in a way. But that’s the magic of photography, it’s a hard language to convey with other mediums in art.

Are photographers just photographers or are photographers artist?

Interesting question, I mean, some people strictly take photos for money, I don’t think that’s art, it’s simply commerce.

Do you think when you put an object (any kind) to a museum or a gallery, that with just this move an object becomes something else than it was before?

I do think things take on different roles in different spaces. An image can take on so many different roles and forms, all depending on the paper it’s printed on, how it’s mounted or framed, where it is positioned on the wall. To finish, I think that art interacts with its environment, whatever kind.

I don’t like it when artist working today make everything look so hard to get. There is no need for viewers to sit there and look at it and wonder “What was this artist thinking?”Art’s not an intellectual exercise. That said, how easy do you think art should be? How much does one need to bring to it to gain an understanding?

I can’t speak for more conceptual artists, although, I do touch on some conceptual practices, my work is about human vulnerability, and so I like the idea of things being accessible. As I mentioned before, I want the viewer to feel something when they look at the image instantly. I know that some will feel more than others, but I think that there is always that one image for each person that ‘ll bring out certain feelings.

Do you think artists have an obligation to inform about social issues in their work? A moral or social responsibility?

Absolutely, especially with the current political climate of the entire world and everything that is going on. As an artist you have a (the) platform to touch people, whether it be through a gallery show, a book, a zine, a poster or even Instagram.

What is your greatest superstition?

I never really think so much about that but, I suppose, I am quite superstitious. I always take a screen shot and kiss my phone at 11:11 (pm or am) and save the screenshot in a folder if someone I loved has texted me at the time. I also live above the temple in Chinatown, and a few times a week they put out tons of beautifully displayed food on floor level tables, on the sidewalk, as an offering in remembrance of someone who has just died. When I walk by, I always do the ‘sign of the cross’ over my chest, even though I’m not religious at all.

How well do you keep secrets?

Some better than others.

Do you vacation?

I want to figure out how to. I love the idea of it, but my life is working. I love to work and I find it hard to turn off. But as I get a bit older, I realize there needs to be a mental break. I see people, and they take month-long vacations, that makes me so anxious! I’ve gone on one vacation in the past few years, and that was last year. I went to Gothenburg, Sweden, with my best friend, Tilda. A friend hooked us up with tickets to Way Out West, so we went there, listened to the bands we both love, spend our days swimming in the sea. We went sailing with Tilda’s dad, Anders, it was very magical, one of my best memories and one of the last times I was able to just turn off my brain for a bit. It inspired me to try to do it more often, so maybe this summer, a week of sailing in Sweden? Also, there are some underwater caves that I want to photograph in Mexico, but I guess that makes it work, semi-work.

Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say?

To be honest, the only person I really speak to on the phone regularly is my Mom, and we talk every day, so there is no need to rehearse. Then there is my gallerist in Belgium, Dries, and he refuses to email, so we speak on the phone, but again, no need to rehearse. But it’s weird to think that you and I have known each other for quite a while now, but I feel like I don’t know what your voice sounds like.

It sounds like me:). Pringles or Lay’s?

Ha, I guess Pringles?

What’s your drink of choice?

Lime Perrier or an El Portal margarita.

Average hours of sleep a night?

I’m a bad sleeper, very anxious, so sometimes I only get four hours, maybe five.

What is the last thing you Googled?

Dos Ojos.

What are you working on right now?

Always a ton of projects going on. Apart from Gallerie & Co119 show in Paris, which was easy to do, as there was not much work for it, but I am very happy to be part of, I have an exhibition in New York, opening May 8th, with Agnes B.

I’ve been showing so much in Europe and Japan, lately, that it feels super nice to again show in NYC. I think we will probably do a book to accompany the show. I want it to be something free for people to take away. I’m also working on two new books, one with Oodee books, with whom I did a book last year, the publisher Damien Poulain is a legend, he gets me and it’s such a pleasure to work with him, and one will be with Stanley Barker. I also have a project for Planned Parenthood coming up, which is really important to me. I stand with them and support them all the way, so I’m making an edition of posters to benefit the cause.

“Let the Neighbors Know”, a one-week-only photo exhibition with Nan Goldin, Chad Moore, Arnaud Pyvka and Juergen Teller opens Saturday, March 4 and will be on view until Saturday, March 11, at Galerie &co119, Paris.

Text: Katja Horvat

Photo: Courtesy of the artist