FDL Movie Night: Eric Minh Swenson
During the past two and half years photographer/director Eric Minh Swenson has created over 200 short documentaries about Southern California artists, as well as assembling thousands of images which record art events–installations, openings, art walks, fairs–from Ventura to San Diego. His mini-documentaries are works of art in themselves, allowing the artists and their work to speak directly to the viewer.
Swenson has gained unprecedented access to artists, collectors, curators, gallerists, and art world denizens from San Diego to Ventura. His photos and interviews are revealing portraits of both the Southland and the artistic impulses–shaped by the area’s geography, climate, history, and cultures–that express themselves here. The art scene in any city has yet to be documented this extensively.
Born in Honolulu and raised in San Antonio, Texas, Swenson began shooting in high school under the mentor ship of his father, a retired Army lieutenant colonel turned fine arts photographer, himself influenced by Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and the Group f/64. Group f/64–named after an aperture stop which creates a depth of field, allowing images in both the foreground and in the distance to stay crisp–prized naturalism in photography. Like his father and Group f/64, Swenson is a “straight photographer” and films his documentaries in a single take.
In addition to his mini-docs on the Los Angeles art world, Swenson has released three feature-length narrative films and begins shooting his ambitious feature-length art documentary Mana this summer in Hawaii. Mana follows a group of Southern California artists as they reveal themselves, their art, and their connections to nature is produced by Andi Campognone, curator at Lancaster CA’s Museum of Art and History, and artist Alex Couwenberg, whose doc is shown below: