An Interview With Photographer Rob Lundberg | Visual Art | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

Boston-born Rob Lundberg's photos, many of them of performers taken in his interim home of New York, have appeared in The Huffington Post, Paste, No Depression, and other publications. Now living in Beacon, the photographer will present "Uncontaminated Sound: Reflections," a six-week exhibition at the Howland Cultural Center of his work that will open on March 4 at 7pm and feature live performances by musicians Jeffrey Lewis and Indigo Sparke. Tickets for the opening event are $30 in advance and $40 day of show. I interviewed Rob Lundberg by email.

—Peter Aaron

This is your third "Uncontaminated Sound" exhibit. Where does the title come from?

It must have been around spring in 2018, I was mulling over how to contextualize my work up to that point. Sitting in a cafe in Peekskill, I reflected upon my shooting style and my intent in working with the medium. What came up was this notion of the raw, the real, an untouched purity of the performer prior to performing. Thus, the term "Uncontaminated Sound" matched perfectly with my ethos and vision of what I was attempting to accomplish with the lens.

What percentage of the photographs in the show is from the work you've done for publications and what percentage is from outside of that? How did you decide which images to use, and how do they fit together as a collective statement?

I'd say with this exhibit, there's a nice mixture of both. I wanted to attempt to bring forth a visual stream of consciousness type experience stemming from of about 63 pieces of various moments and sizes. I've attempted to select pieces from a chronological standpoint, but in the end I placed more importance on moments and stills that were important to me, along with rehashing a few already set to show. These paired with two live performances on the opening night, I hope will deliver an impactful immersive experience which reflects my reality.

click to enlarge An Interview With Photographer Rob Lundberg
Jeffrey Lewis at Tompkins Square Park. Rob Lundberg

How long have you been taking pictures? What drew you to photography?

I have always been a keen observer of my surroundings, but it wasn't until I made the move from Boston to Brooklyn that I picked up the camera for serious endeavors. Being in a new city with tons of visual stimuli, I started immersing myself in this new environment and its culture; the camera was the best tool to record my experiences. That was late 2016. Due to a few fortuitous interactions in 2017 I was off and running, taking on music assignments for Paste and showing my first image in Chelsea that same year. So, now it's been about five or six years of photographic work. Wow, time moves swiftly.

You're also a visual artist who works in drawing, painting, charcoals, and digital formats. In what ways do these other mediums influence your work in photography, and vice versa?

Each exploration with any respective medium for me ties into all my other investigations. For example, with charcoal and paint I tend to create figures in a portrait-like frame, which tends to flow into my photo work as they all tie into my fascination with capturing the spirit and energy of a subject. I guess all these methods are ways for my curiosity to navigate my intrigue with the human condition.

The show centers on photos you've taken of musicians and other performers, but the advance examples we've seen don't include any "live action" shots of the artists on stage; instead, they seem to show the artists in repose or in more candid moments, perhaps before or after they've performed. Is this a conscious approach?

To simply explain I generally send along more intimate stills as I like to present moments of these performers that most don't get to see. However, I do indeed have a deep archive (I'm not sure of the exact number, though must be in the high hundreds if not closer to a thousand) of performance stills. Which, time permitting, I attempt to post on my social accounts, and I also have a dedicated section on my website of such work. Of course, with the upcoming show I do hope to have included a good portion a performance-oriented shots paired with candids and portraits.

click to enlarge An Interview With Photographer Rob Lundberg
Walter Marten of the Walkmen in his Gansevoort studio. Rob Lundberg

"Uncontaminated Sound" is also the name of your podcast interview series. What can you tell us about the series?

With the interview series, the conversations I have are presented completely unscripted (uncontaminated), unedited, and off-the-cuff, besides lowering the saturation for video. The series is really just me being myself and waxing poetically with interesting folks like musicians, educators, artists, photographers, authors, filmmakers, plus more. I find it refreshing to just be myself in a digital world of overt over production and falseness, and really it has been my way to connect with people during these post-COVID days.

How has being in the region shaped your more recent work?

Here in the Hudson Valley there's no lack of serious artisans, and I have been fortunate to meet and befriend super-talented folks who have helped me push my work to a higher degree. Also, having space away from the city has allowed me to focus on my work on a deeper level, by giving my mind the quietness it needs to reflect upon my why, my narrative.

click to enlarge An Interview With Photographer Rob Lundberg
Louie Anderson at Bethel Woods Performing Arts Center. Rob Lundberg

Peter Aaron

Peter Aaron is the arts editor for Chronogram.
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