Artist Q&A: Joshua Jensen-Nagle talks with Vitamin Daily

Artist Joshua Jensen-Nagle in his Toronto Studio.

In anticipation of Bau-Xi Gallery's upcoming exhibition ‘Simple Days’, opening July 9 in Vancouver, Laura Busby of Vitamin Daily interviewed Toronto-based photographer Joshua Jensen-Nagle to learn more about his latest dreamy beach scenes.


How would you describe your visual art practice?

I approach photography with a means to create rather than document. Throughout the years, I have used many different techniques to achieve the final image including the use of expired Polaroid film in my early works, painting on photography and re-photographing the images, to most recently dangling out of helicopters and using the highest-end digital camera available.

A consistent theme in your work is beaches and bathers. Why is this subject such a rich possibility for you?

I reflect on my life experiences when I create, and this particular theme stems from my childhood spent at the beach. Each summer, we would stay at my grandfather’s shore house in Mantoloking, New Jersey. It was a simpler, more carefree time that has remained one of my fondest memories from my youth. Since then, I have spent the last 16 years photographing beaches and each time I am able to capture it in a new way.

How would you describe your new series of images and where did you travel to photograph these scenes?

Most recently, I have travelled to Australia, Rio de Janeiro, Hawaii and Miami to capture images of the beach from a helicopter. An aerial perspective produces an almost abstract view of the beaches and ocean. You recognize the subject but in a very different way, so what you are mostly left with is an overall sense of joy in the moment.

What can the perspective from high above reveal about the beach for the viewer?

It’s interesting that usually people like privacy and would like their own personal space. However you notice that in these scenes people seem to flock together. There is something about it that is unusual and very interesting. It says something about our culture when we are out of our daily routines and we find comfort in crowds.

Your new series shows a distinct divide between water and sand, punctuated with people. What inspired this composition?

That is just the vantage point. Photography is all about finding the right vantage to take the image from and then finding the right visual composition. I have been photographing this subject from the ground for so many years, that it is natural for me to move on. You have to keep yourself excited about a subject or the work will suffer.

You must have the best vacation advice, which location was your favourite? 

I get asked this question often. Each place is such a unique experience with its own challenges. People often say how much fun it must be to travel to these destinations, and while it is exciting, it is also work. So much effort goes into the planning and scheduling of these trips. I am mostly thinking about making images and don’t spend a lot of time relaxing on the beach. With that said, I love Italy! It has so many different dynamic landscapes to work with and the food is great!

Joshua Jensen-Nagle’s exhibition Simple Days is available July 9 to 23, 2016 at Bau-Xi Gallery Vancouver




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