Interview with Josephine Sacabo
I studied literature in college and then ventured into theatre when my husband and I started a small theater company in London in the 1960s. I never studied photography and it came into my life as a fluke because a friend had left an old camera behind in a house where I was living in the south of France. My photo work has almost always been inspired by literature, so eventually we put my husband’s poetry and my images together in our first collaboration called Nocturnes . We both love the great French artists’ books from the beginning of the 20th century and so we decided to start Luna Press. The idea is to make beautiful artists’ books based on the correspondence of words and images but which are nonetheless affordable.
2. Inventing Reality, the latest release from Luna, is a book someone could easily get lost in. How did you come about choosing these photographers, and is there a central vein that runs through the work?
I in fact did not choose the photographers for Inventing Reality but I did choose Eric Bookhardt as the curator because he is an excellent photographer and art critic with a special feel for New Orleans culture. It was Eric who discovered the visionary connection of a lot of the images and where it fit into the history of New Orleans art.
3. Your city has had a rough few years but is coming back beautifully. New Orleans seems to have considered the arts as a valuable part of that restoration. To what or whom do you give that credit? What advice would you give supporters of the arts in other cities who might be facing a tough challenge?
I think that a lot of the young people that came here after Katrina have had a huge influence. I think it’s a movement that started from the ground up – cheap rents helped of course – and has grown into a really vibrant art scene, particularly in photography. I can’t really advise anyone on the subject since I have no idea really why these things take root in one place and not another.
4. Your photography is influenced by literature, and you are involved in a body of work inspired by the writings of Clarice Lispector. Would you tell us more about this, and when might we see your new book?
I just finished a 50-print portfolio called Beyond Thought based on her writing . Her work has enhanced the way I perceive the world enormously and has pushed my images in new directions. A lot of her texts are poetic interior monologues of women and this is an area that has always been part of my work. When she asks a question like “and as for music, after it’s played where does it go?” I feel like I can answer that in images. We are working on a book of this and trying to come up with new design ideas that will complement the experimental aspect of her writing.
5. And lastly, the South. You were raised in Texas, but spent considerable time in France. Where do you see the South in the world of photography these days, and if you could make a difference what would it be?
I think of the South more in terms of a sensibility than a subject and I think it is a great strength. Clarence Laughlin, Sally Mann, Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor. People in the South tend to stay close to what they love and I believe this has a huge effect on the work they produce, whether about the South as such or not. I think the ones that can make a difference are people like you who provide a forum so the rest of the world can see what is happening down here.