In university, one of the professions I briefly entertained was Art Historian. I honestly had no idea what type of knowledge or duties that title entailed, but I knew that my sister took Art History as her major, and it seemed ideal and romantic.
Clearly, I took an alternate path but I still romanticize the idea of going to a gallery to look at paintings, sculptures, and photographs; to interact with the space; and observe the way individuals engage with the art itself.
The current set up of most of galleries are stagnant and linear — minimal spaces, velvet ropes, hands behind your back — and limited access to individuals who don’t necessarily have the means (monetary, transportation, etc.) to enjoy it. With all this in mind, I interviewed Toronto-based film photographer, Jalil Bokhari about his show, Tito’s Take Five. The show features his work printed on silk organza, a vinyl decal, polar fleece, and a puzzle (along with pictures placed in unconventional places), inviting the viewer to physically interact with the space and his photographs.
Photos by Jalil Bokhari
Q1: Hi Jalil! Please introduce yourself!
A: Hi! I’m Jalil, I’m an artist/photographer from Pakistan by way of Calgary, currently have been residing in Toronto for the past 5 years.
Q2:What is your preferred medium?
A: I prefer and almost strictly use analog/film photography.
Q3: Why is film so appealing to you? How did you start?
A: It has always been an act of patience and a love of the process. I started with my dad’s Nikon F60 in high school. It sparked my love for digital cameras that shoot film.
Q4: What’s your most ideal photo taking situation (e.g. some people can only do studio, etc.)?
A: Most of my images are inspired by the spontaneity in the act of taking a photo. I have a camera, or generally two apart from my phone, on me at all times. I don’t shoot nearly enough to justify it, yet I would find it much harder to justify not having one when I do have the desire to do so. I look for passing moment, it’s what inspires me to take photos. Even in studio, or in a controlled, envisioned idea my goal is to capture candidness and spontaneity.
Q5: What do you hope to accomplish with your photos or is it just a personal creative outlet?
A: I hope to capture candidness. It, to me, is what taking pictures is all about. It is a personal creative outlet and also a documentation.
By choosing to print in alternative materials and methods, including vinyl decals, polar fleece, organza silk, and the puzzle, I hope to bring the sense of same whimsy and playfulness to the viewer that I experienced creating for this show.
Q6: Your show, Tito’s Take Five is showing at Mi-Yu gallery, what inspired the name?
A: I was hooked on to the song when I was young. Track 3 on my dad’s Very Best of Latin Jazz CD. The show was about having fun putting together art and doing things differently in a manner that is more jovial. I was distraught figuring out a name when the CBC on my radio played some Latin Jazz and started thinking of the same whimsy/playfulness it takes on the broader genre. My mind went straight to that song; it’s original form being a deviation from what jazz was at the time, and in turn becoming a new standard, and then two decades later another deviation in the form of fun. I thought of how motifs and styles of contemporary photography have been made more accessible and become commonplace, a new standard within the broader genre of jazz. I wanted to do what Tito did; have a little bit of fun with a standard, a classic.
Q7: Most gallery shows are stagnant — many of the photos are framed and placed on sterile looking walls, making it almost inaccessible to the user. Can you tell us about why you decided to have your prints on different materials?
A: I wanted play on the fence between installation, sculptural work and photographic prints. I was just a bit tired of they way prints on a wall made me feel. It some times ruined good photos for me, as it just didn’t impact me enough anymore. As contemporary aesthetic is being embraced more, including in commercial outlets, it made me question where photo should expand to. By choosing to print in alternative materials and methods, including vinyl decals, polar fleece, organza silk, and the puzzle, I hope to bring the sense of same whimsy and playfulness to the viewer that I experienced creating for this show.
The show stems from a reaction to the way we consume photography today. The time spent with a piece in a gallery is almost equivalent to that online, even if impact is greater. This is usually only challenged by method or mere size of presentation. We tend to spend more time with images that are large, encompassing all that is in view. Often the content of the image in these cases is regardless, it’s the sensory experience of the piece that is more reactionary.
In the same light, a great image is dulled by a “standard” sized C-Print framed in a slim black frame. perhaps it is because the idea of a photograph has lost its physical use, hasn’t managed to stand up in defence in light of the disposability of art in context to the Internet. that, or the image can longer stand up in a gallery setting alongside more traditional, or tactile medium. The idea here is then to use the presentation of the image as the medium.
The photographs used for the pieces aid to the effect of the print medium but aren’t the main focus. This also allowed my intention to alleviate the seriousness of the gallery setting. By choosing to print in alternative materials and methods, including vinyl decals, polar fleece, organza silk, and the puzzle, I hope to bring the sense of same whimsy and playfulness to the viewer that I experienced creating for this show.