We are pretty thrilled to feature the work of French born Magid Salmi for our next ARC Exhibition, opening this Friday, November 4th. In Alternate Reality, Salmi takes a playful and humorous approach to his visual commentary our society’s obsession with consumerism and technological progress. His uniquely constructed still life photographs feature the use of common household and perishable items in an alternate reality, investigating the notion that what we consider strange and shocking now may become the status quo in the future.
We sat down with Magid to ask him a few questions about his work, his inspirations, and career plans.
Spacetaker: Your “Alternate Reality” body of work is visually fascinating and quite humorous. In fact, Hank Hancock referred to it as “Still Life Frankenfoods” in his recent post on the Houston Press Art Attack. How or what led you to develop this body of work?
Magid Salmi: I noticed that sometimes people don't react well to the direct approach when you ask them to think more about our society, lifestyle, consummation habits and how that impacts everything and everyone. Using humor is always a good way to express a darker idea.
What is your biggest inspiration as an artist?
It's going to sound like a cliché but I would say everything, since I do believe everything can be interesting or beautiful when seen through a certain perspective. If I had to be more precise, then I’d say the news, a good social documentary, or something ridiculous that I’ve heard. In short anything that makes me cringe, which is a lot of stuff.
What have you learned throughout this process of preparing for and planning this solo exhibition?
Plan ahead and get the pieces to be shown ready as soon as possible. You might not think it will happen, but SOMETHING will go wrong, usually at the last minute. If everything goes as planned, then you can focus on other aspects of the exhibition such as PR and communications. And if possible, get some help.
Who or what has been the most influential to your work?
I wish I could give the name of someone that will make me sound smart or interesting, but really I think it’s growing up in Paris and going to every kind of museum with my father at an early age and throughout my adult life. I think all that culture, knowledge, and history just opened my mind to the idea that I really know very little about the world around me and that there is always more to things than meets the eye. I think that’s what I’m trying to accomplish in my photography, wanting the viewers to question what they see and find their own stories or explanations.
Tell us about your career path. Where have you been & where would you like to end up?
I was an amateur photographer while traveling and living abroad in Asia before I began pursuing photography as a career at the age of 27 in Paris, which is pretty late in the industry. I learned everything by doing, by being an assistant and working as an intern in different studios. Basically just starting at the very bottom. I had a chance to work with a lot of different photographers in a lot of different kinds of commercial photography before specializing in fashion and events. I still know how to make food look shiny and delicious in pictures, or the most aesthetically pleasing time to set a watch to when doing jewelry still life. I later got the chance to be included in a few exhibits in Paris and decided to move to Houston in 2009, my wife’s hometown. It was really encouraging to be selected in Lawndale Art Center’s Big Show last year and also the Art League Houston’s Gambol exhibition. Winning 2nd place in the "Gambol" show really solidified the idea that I might not be so bad at what I do. Since then, good things have been happening. I’ve been in group shows in London, Los Angeles, Austin and now my very first solo exhibition with Spacetaker.
As to where I would like to end up ...the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, which is the national museum of modern art, so my mum could see what I do.
What is the best art-related piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Let's try something else!
What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken? Did it pay off?
Coming to Houston, and we will see.
On a more serious note I don't see risk at face value but rather as just trying something out, an experiment you might say. Looking at it from this angle means they almost always pay off since I have always learned something from undertaking it.
Learn more about Magid at his website www.magidsalmi.com.
Alternate Reality will be on view November 4th through December 2nd at Spacetaker’s ARC Gallery, located within Winter Street Studios (2101 Winter Street, Houston, TX 77007).
Please join us for the free public opening reception this Friday, Nov. 4th from 6-8pm!
Photos in order from top to bottom: Photo of Magid Salmi; Ail-Phone (2008); Curling Mechanism (2011); plu#4025 (2011)