Caroll Taveras Q&A
When and why did you first have the urge to do collage photography?
I’ve been making collages for 15 years now. I can’t really say what was the urge I felt to make them initially. It’s something that happened quite naturally. Probably it was the urge to tell a story through images and since I can’t really draw or paint, this is my way of painting with photographs and found images.
How does the process work?
It’s all manual cut and paste with scissors and glue. I normally start by cutting up my photographs, looking through magazines and ripping out those images or patterns that I find interesting. And if I have a specific idea in my head I look for specific images, but most of the time I’m just ripping and cutting, adding to my archive. I have boxes and boxes of flowers, tress, horse images, clouds etc. When I find the images I want to put together I starting laying everything down like a puzzle. When the puzzle is complete I glue it down, which sometime means taking it all apart again.
How long does each image take to compose?
Every piece is different. When I know exactly what I want to say with it I can make a small one in an hour. For the bigger pieces it takes me about a week. And sometimes I will have a collage on my table for a month until I find the right image that will make it all come together. There is never any real time frame unless it’s a commission.
Who or what inspires you?
I find inspiration in a lot of things. I love big open spaces the most and a heavy sky.
Why did you call your book Surrender?
Well, the book is named after one of my collages, which I made in 2004. It was the best advise I could give to someone special at that time and it’s the same advice I give to him now. I love the sound of this word. There is such vulnerability and strength in it. You have to be strong and fearless to surrender. When I really thought about it I could have named all the collages in the book surrender, so it became my surrender series and now I think I am ready to move on from it.
Does each photograph have a narrative?
Yes, every collage I ever make has a narrative. It’s just the way my brain works. Each one is filled with inside stories, secrets and messages, kind of like the Where’s Waldo idea. Look in the crowd and you will find the same person or thing…
They feel almost like nightmarish dreamscapes – is this intentional?
I don’t think this is intentional. But you think about what happens when you cut things up and put them where they are “not supposed” to go, this can create a sort of nightmarish feel to most things. Or perhaps again, this is the way my brain works. Dreams quickly turn into nightmares, perhaps.
What else are you working on at the moment?
Right now I am working on a Photo Studio project in downtown Brooklyn. I have taken over a storefront and turned it into a Portrait studio, where people can come and get a formal portrait taken for only $5 and walk away with a 4x5 Fuji Polaroid. I am there every day except Mondays, until February 11th, possibly longer. I want to capture the everyday people of this time. It’s very exciting to see who will walk through the door and sit for a portrait.