Street: How did you first get into photography?
Christine Alix: I’ve been interested in photographs for as long as I can remember. Even as a kid, I always wanted to take the photo. I would try to convince my parents to give me the camera. My Dad gave me my first film SLR when I was in eighth grade. It was as if he gave me a key to the world and since then I’ve rarely found myself without a camera.
Street: Who or what have been your biggest sources of inspiration?
CA: This might sound ridiculous, but I’m serious—almost everything inspires me. I’m constantly inspired. It’s rare that something, even something simple, doesn’t captivate me in some way.
I find myself in all sorts of strange scenarios, collecting random objects or in great conversations because of this easily inspired outlook. I obsessively compile pictures, scraps of things and quotes in my sketchbooks. And of course, this fascination with the world is manifested through my photography.
I guess I’m largely inspired by adventure. I really think there’s nothing better than grabbing my camera and heading off to explore or just engaging in shenanigans with my friends.
Editor’s Note: Intrigued by the sketchbooks? We were. Check them out here:
Street: Where is your work headed?
CA: My photographic practice has been based in documentary photography and I think that interest remains a thread in my art, even my conceptual work. I try to create images that have an allegorical element, resonating with larger themes than simply the subject matter.
As far as projects, I’m continuing a four–year long exploration of Detroit. I photograph in the abandoned buildings and other structures of the city. It’s a pretty incredible but overwhelming place. On the other end of the spectrum, I’m also doing some really personal redactive text–based work. I’m digging into my past experiences and really pushing myself, conceptually.
Street: You’re quite the world traveler—How many places have you been? Do you have any trips coming up?
CA: I’ve been to almost 40 countries! I’m planning a few trips, actually. Within the next year I’m hoping to get back to Turkey and Australia, where I studied abroad. My roommate and I are planning a reindeer herding trip in Mongolia which should be interesting—definitely a great photo op! There’s been some talk of exploring closed nations (North Korea, Cuba) but we’ll see—planning these adventures is so much about just finding the time.
Street: Tell us about the most challenging thing you’ve ever photographed, and also what your favorite project has been.
CA: I don’t know, really. I love huge projects and tend to tackle more than one project at a time. There are always challenging projects, but I really enjoy the work so don’t find the work laborious. Anything with math, like framing, is always a struggle. Basic arithmetic gets me every time.
One of the most difficult projects was also my favorite. After traveling to India with the Fine Arts department on the photo abroad trip, I created a series entitled Synecdoche. The final product were these two massive panoramas, of sorts, at about 5’ x 5’ each. They had 500+ images in each one. I made two and it took 21 consecutive hours to construct the final products alone—never mind the travelling to India, photographing and drafts!
Street: Crazy fun fact about yourself?
CA: Before coming to Penn I was a competitive snowboarder. I rode seven days a week and competed five, when I was in season. I even went to New Zealand to train in the summer!
Street: When you’re not photographing, you’re…
CA: Thinking about what to photograph next
Watching hocus pocus
Being silly with my roommates
Falling up stairs
Carving jack–o–lanterns to look like famous dictators
Naming my future mini horse
Sculpting my exquisite handlebar mustache
Trading beaver pelts for questionable favors in the catacombs at the PMA
Busy not doing math
Writing admiring letters to the inventor of Velcro
Riding a kayak down locust
Licking things to claim them as my own
Submitting applications for Ice Road Truckers
Creating an orchestra out of kitchen appliances
Bunking beds to make more room for activities.
Knitting college football sweaters for cats
Building a shrine to Brad Paisley
Turning our living room into a fort (seriously)
Tying knots in my roommate’s dental floss
Buttering my roommate’s yoga mat
Drinking acid rain (you’re welcome world. I got rid of it)
I have many leather–bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany
Giftwrapping my roommate’s pillows
Letting my roommate answer the questions for my Street interview
Planning unreasonable adventures
Booking unreasonable adventures
Posting nudie pics on my Linked–in
Competitively dying Easter eggs
Teaching myself the harp
Training/timing myself for cinnamon ingestion challenges
Attempting to change my name to Ghengis Khan