Twenty-year old, Puerto-Rican born Jackson McGoldrick is still a veritable youngster when it comes to the world of photographer.
A self-confessed ‘artist’ his earlier work with its clean, technically sound approach had a clear bias towards fashion but #itchysilk have caught him in a transitional period. Works of late have become more personal with issues of sexuality, gender and a candid exploration of his relationship with his mother a prevalent narrative.
A question we always put to photographers-chart your journey from an interest in photography to this passion?
I began photography when I was 15 based around my interest in graphic design and playing around with photoshop. Originally, I was playing around taking my own stock images for composites but eventually it turned into something more. I discovered how to pull off manipulations with my images.
Can you remember the first image you took what was it and what made you realise (if it did) that you have a talent for photography?
Strangely enough the first image I was ever proud of contrasts completely to the work I create now. I used to be a competitive diver when I was younger and I would play around with a point and shoot camera I got for Christmas at the competitions. During warm ups, I would position myself underneath the diving board and I would take images of my friends diving and from the angle I was shooting, I would get these great images of their dives against the clouds in the sky with nothing else in the frame. I thought it was so cool that it would difficult from that angle and in that frame, you could never guess where the image was taken from.
Are you first and foremost a creative who happens to like photography?
Yes, I consider myself an artist who happens to use photography as a medium and not just a “photographer”. I have been teaching myself how to sew, do makeup and set design this past year more than taking photographs. My overall goal is to combine as many facets of art making into the frame so every piece is like a mixed media experience in a still image.
We saw you say in one of your feeds you took time off to re-assess what you wanted to be-explain that more and why was this the time to assess that?
The time off was mainly because I found myself getting so bored with the images I was creating. I was not excited to share work, everything was becoming a pretty portrait with no substance. By teaching myself how to sew, create clothes and props that I am incorporating into my images, I now feel like my images (even before they get into the frame) are already going the extra mile because of the preparation for the image.
Some of your work appears to veer into fashion work is that correct and indeed what are the merits of fashion photography?
Nowadays I find it hard take an image and not consider it fashionable if clothes are involved. I don’t consider my work inherently fashion photographs but I do use the fashion to carry my images through color. I prefer myself or my models wearing clothes I find at my thrift store, rather than anything we normally own because its adds a quality to the image that has you question where and when the images were taken.
Book 3 of your work appears to step into the world of gender issues-discuss that more and indeed what interested you so much about that world (as it were)?
I really enjoy creating a separate world for my photographs to exist in, whether it be the time or environment of the image. The art of drag/ female illusionism took that even further through the transformation the performers undergo to create an entirely new and fictional human being into reality.
You state you focus on ‘creating narratives’ Teach Me How To Swim appears to fulfil that wish- explain those ideas.
Creating narratives is something I find the most passion in-telling and creating stories is something I’ve always loved and being able to sequence photographs to do that is the best of both worlds for me. “Teach me how to swim”, is a narrative I worked on in 2016. It was in response to my mother’s struggle and addiction to alcohol. I created these scenes around my home that were meant to invoke a sense of drowning and struggle that would make the viewer tense and anxious while viewing it. I plan on revisiting the project and recreated some of the images with a bit more “technical finesse”. However, my mom and I are at a good place right now and I find it difficult to make work driven by emotion, when the emotion (whether it be anger, anxiousness, or even happiness) isn’t there. Many of the images in these series were created in the heat of the moment. The image of me in the fish net was taken the day of my grandma’s funeral after we buried her. My mom was completely inebriated the entire day and it was an experience I had to simply bare through.
My Mother’s Daughter are powerful images-explain the narrative behind that series more.
I wanted to move away from creating work like Teach Me How To Swim, since making dark work while it is therapeutic is also extremely draining mentally. My Mother’s Daughter is an on-going series of self-portraits of my mother and I, as if I were her daughter. My mother always treated me as an equal and not her child and I wanted to create a series that celebrates that friendship in a campy light hearted way. Drag to me is such a beautiful art form that can be serious and comical at the same time. I thought it would only fit to re-enact my childhood with my mother in full drag. Now that I’m more comfortable in my makeup skills and costuming I am going to invest more into the project this coming year and bring it into the public rather than just portraits around the home.
A few of your images are moving images.
I have always been fascinated with cinema-graphs and gif making. I think my dream/ideal installation would be an entire room of cinema graphs framed like family portraits where the viewer is forced to investigate the images to find out what is moving in the frame.
We were talking to an individual about sexuality and gender-while you discuss this in your work-in brief do you think we get too caught up in being male, female, gay, bisexual-does there need to be more fluidity in what people can be?
I first and foremost definitely believe gender is 100% a social construct. Sex is something that is defined at birth, but gender is who we are, how we carry ourselves, how we make ourselves comfortable.
You seem to cultivate a non-specified gender look in your images?
Most of my friends and models are drag queens. I spent the past year at school just stepping back and working on studio and lighting techniques and while I find shooting in the studio boring I thought the only way to make it interesting is to bring these fabulous creatures into the studio. Rather than just being studio portraits they became mixed media pieces almost, combining performance, with painting on a new face and photography.
We know in your feeds you are working on a new work what we can expect?
I’m constantly working on something new. I have been extremely hesitant on sharing because I have not been able create work to the standard I want to achieve. Being in the environment of an art school has made me more critical and a bit self-conscious about my work. Being the ocd perfectionist I am, I have just been scrapping everything if it does not reach the levels I imagine. This is a double-edged sword-I just finished turning the basement in my home in Connecticut to a makeshift set bedroom and I plan on creating a narrative about my drag persona in this environment.