Curator, Rachel Ralph, recently caught up with New York based photographer Beryl Fine as we prepare for this years second annual 4%ers group exhibition taking place at Athen B. Gallery in Downtown Oakland. Fine and Ralph discuss a variety of things from sexuality, entrepreneurial endeavors to advertising and re-appropriating the female gaze. Stay tuned for the opening reception of the second annual 4%ers group exhibition curated by Rachel Ralph coming to Athen B. Gallery this August 13th, 2016. Learn more about Beryl and her work below!
Alexandra Levasseur | Andrea Wan | Angela Fox
Anne Harris | Beryl Fine | Erin Riley | Hanna Yata
Ileana Tejada | Kate Klingbeil | Kit King | Lauren YS
Marina Capdevila | Meryl Pataky | Nicomi Nix Turner
Noel Morica | Rebecca Morgan | Sheryo
Stacey Rozich | Winnie Truong
In an effort to understand the hysterical minds of this year’s group of 4%ERS, I got the chance to ask them each a few questions on themselves, their work, and the art world from their perspective. With such a diverse group of artists, I wanted to draw some connections, create some continuity, and just see what these artists have to say. No one ever shattered a glass ceiling without asking any questions first. - 4%ers Curator, Rachel Ralph
Check out Rachel's past interview with Lauren YS - HERE
Beryl Fine/ Brooklyn/ 33
Have you ever been called hysterical?
No, but I have been called a number of other nouns and a myriad of other adjectives.
How do you feel being a woman has affected your art making?
I choose to make art that addresses the female personification. Womyn have been told since time immemorial how to see and be seen by men and their gaze. I want to re-appropriate the female gaze and bring it into our own light.
How do you feel being a woman has affected your art career?
I don’t know, it’s hard for me to make assumptions about how my career has been affected by gender. What I do know is that most people when they see my work assume I am male. I know it’s because my name is ambiguous and not gender specific. Most of them react with surprise and amazement feeling that my work doesn't “look like” work made by women (whatever the hell that means).
Do you think your creative process has anything to do with you being female?
Absolutely, all of my work is affected by my understandings and explorations in this world. All of my creative pursuits are touched by my identity and I heavily identify as womyn.
Your work directly deals with female sexuality and pleasure. What drew you to this area of study?
When I was in college I studied advertising design and I began to clearly recognize how much of what we see is through a male gaze. Whether it’s a tampon ads, romantic comedies, pornography on the internet all the way down to Summer’s Eve yeast infection wash. None of it was created with intention or first person experience as a womyn. I wanted to re-appropriate the female gaze specifically with regards to sexuality and ego. Portraying images of womyn strong, secure and proud of themselves unmotivated by 2nd parties and intentions to placate anyone other than themselves. Please note this is with regards to my cis womyn series.
Your work captures the fluidity of gender but it seems that you mostly work with female models. Do you prefer working with the female form?
It’s more about access, rather than preferring one over the other. I actually prefer to shoot drag queens and gender bending androgyny. I find the line we strut between gender norms fascinating and I love to explore that part of part of identity. However, many of the individuals I surround myself with are like minded womyn and many of them love to collaborate and get naked just for the sake of vanity and exploring their id and ego.
Your work often feels like immediate snapshots. Do you work in the studio or more spontaneously in public?
I like both! It depends on the model and her personality. We discuss a loose concept before we shoot and if she’s the type who doesn't give a shit I take full advantage of that and explore public spaces. If that isn’t her jam we stay indoors and shoot in my Bat Cave studio or other spaces. I am not big on choreography, I like to let people contribute to the act of making and creating. Shooting on film does limit the quantity (I am forever on broke hoe diet) but it makes up for the fact that since we can’t shoot till infinite we must focus on really paying attention to composition and mood.
I hate the word “normal” and your photos seem to expand the boundaries of normalcy while providing a glimpse into what feel like very private moments. They float somewhere between public and private, normal and strange. Do you try to bring private oddity to the public space?
Oh my god YES! I love to get weird and bring absurdity to reality. I am a big fan of John Waters, David Lynch, Guy Bordine, Diane Arbus and Nan Goldin. All of them yes are totally different but they all show displays of normalcy in a very grotesque manner. It’s a grand reveal, peeling back the curtain to show another vantage point of bizaar.
You also create a line of chocolate. Talk about unabashed hedonism and pleasure! How did you get into the chocolate-making game?
For a very long time I have been an entrepreneur and anything I have accomplished I have never achieved through convention. Since I live in Brooklyn, medicinal edibles are not in abundance and as a native Californian I need my weeds. I started making chocolate infused with medicinal herbs to aid in my everyday self care. I wanted to make something that has a long shelf life, I could dose appropriately and I could make low in sugar and low in saturated butter fat. I had an a-ha moment sitting around smoking a jay and looking up vegan recipes. CHOCOLATE! I began to share my dark chocolate sweetened with coconut and maple sugars with friends and other foodies and they loved it! Many people encouraged me to make non THC lace chocolate so that the could eat it in abundance. In tandem I was in full swing of an existential crisis and felt I needed to no longer tread the path of broke artist. So I reappropriated my canvas to my wrappers plastering my images on the bars I sell. So far so good! We have entered our second year of business and I am now taking a modest paycheck home from my company Haute Chocolate Brooklyn. I expect that we will begin to blossom with in the next year are really grow into the feminist chocolate flower I have envisioned. #youbetterwerk Our tag line is #virtuoushedonism embodying all things good and indulgent. Haute Chocolate is organic and clean of artificial gross allowing us to indulge without consequence. #eatthewholething #justputitinmymouth