Q&A: Peter Hoffman


What is your plan for the next 24 hours? I just had a magazine shoot in a nearby prison and so I am editing those images. I’ll probably go on a run in the woods this afternoon – back to work till my brain is numb from the computer then I’ll crash and in the morning I’ll take a drive to my girlfriend’s family’s lakehouse up in Michigan. I’m hoping there’s snow up there. Is flirting a kind of cheating? Depends. It’s all about the intent. I don’t know how to flirt so I’ve never stressed about it. What moment have you most wished you’d had a camera when you hadn’t? Some years ago I was in central Mexico and randomly found myself in the midst of a huge crowd in the city center and they all let go of balloons simultaneously. Of course this is my memory now so everything about it was perfect, but it was really pretty close. I actually had 2 cameras with me but the batteries had died on my digital and I had no more film left for my other one – so, same thing. That moment has always stuck out to me as the photograph that I missed. Who would you never work for, no matter how much they offered to pay? There’s not enough space. Essentially anyone or any entity that I feel is doing more harm than good.

Describe a cheap thrill. Let’s see – in high school I used to drive my van through soccer fields at night and try to spin it there as well. Never really worked and I made a mess. Oops. Name something that you would be willing to shorten your life by ten years to receive right now. A contract from God that I’ll live to be 110 and full of vitality until I croak (So, 100 minus those 10 years). Do you think he’ll/she’ll see this? Who would you most like to see embarrass themselves? Really anyone who needs an ego check. What is your nationality? I’m a mutt but – German, Irish and French background mostly. Really I’m just an American.  What nationality would you like to be alternatively? Anything that might mitigate my propensity for getting sunburnt would be okay. Make a prediction for the future. Roads will become irrelevant once we all have personal flying vehicles and the traditional urban/suburban layout will undergo a radical shift because of this. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Probably charisma. And humility is the most underrated. What is your biggest regret? Not causing enough trouble when I was younger. Who are your favorite writers? I really enjoy the thoughts of Kierkegaard. Summer or winter? They can both get overwhelming in Chicago. I choose Autumn.

Create the name for a virus that will decimate the population. Coal. Would you like to see more or less political correctness? I would like to see the people given attention display more intelligence and then this question may not matter. If you had to align yourself with a leader in history, who would it be? I don’t think I can do this. If that leader exists history has probably forgotten their name anyways. Pick a field of science to be an expert within. Astrophysics. What was the last crime you witnessed? There is a nearby stop sign I am morally opposed to. It propagates inefficiency. Can you think of an insult that would make you react in a violent way? I’m a pacifist. What part of the planet would you like to explore? The bottom of the ocean and the tundra. Where do you think the most dangerous place on Earth is? Eh, you’re biding your time anywhere on earth. I will say I would not want to be a journalist in Mexico right now…  Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? I’m very partial to existentialism and find it an extremely liberating. At least  my interpretation of it is. Name an artist that is overrated. Hahahaha. I think Richard Prince is full of shit. I mean, I understand his work but he’s also laughing all the way to the bank for having put forth not much effort. Businessman yes, but artist…well what does that word mean anyways? I try to concern myself with my own work.

Peter Hoffman – From the series Again and Again (2012-2014).

Again and Again was photographed from January to April of 2012 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The book takes viewers on a wandering path exploring the neighborhoods and encountering the people of Christchurch. At the time, the area is still encountering near daily tremors a year after a significant earthquake and severe aftershocks destroyed much of the central city and numerous homes in the coastal suburbs.

I lived in Christchurch for about half of 2004, and my favorite spot to watch the sun rise, a cliff top spot in a suburb called Sumner, fell into the sea with the earthquakes. The beauty of the spot never left me and I had dreamed of one day going back with family and loved ones to show them the spot, but it’s not there anymore. Learning that the spot had disappeared instilled in me a sense of urgency to return, so I did.

The resulting work was born out of a desire to explore the impermanence of place and how we cope with, or are affected by constant change and uncertainty. Christchurch is well known by its nickname “The Garden City” and although there wasn’t much infrastructure being rebuilt at the time of my visiting, the land had already started to sprout anew in both new and expected places.