Q&A: Terri Weifenbach — Des oiseaux (Editions Xavier Barral)


Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? Staying adaptable…. Particularly useful when moving to another country. What will baffle future generations about our day and age? Clocks with hands. Are you aware of any conspiracies? Other than what we hear in the news? Not me. What is it that interests you about photography? Same thing that interests me in all the arts. The transformation of thought to image, paper, shapes, spaces. And then specific to photography, that it can do this direct from the existing world. What is the worst thing about city life? The lack of significant nature. What part of the planet would you like to explore? Forests! What do you think is the most plausible of the supernatural? I don’t know what we don’t know. Pick a field of science to be an expert within. Meteorology and ornithology. Can’t decide between the two. What moment have you most wished you’d had a camera when you hadn’t? I did have a camera… but couldn’t use it… I stepped into a swarm of bees that had been on the ground. I didn’t see them. They rose up, hovering, all around me so dense all I could see (and hear) were bees, Camera in hand, by my side, completely frozen, until they moved on as a black cloud. What painter most interests you? I have many, but I’ve been thinking a lot about Julie Mehretu’s work recently. Choose a job you would be willing to do for free on the side. Companion to the elderly. They have stories. Describe the most important photo(s) you’ve seen. There are two and they’re both Eggleston’s. The open oven and the colorful plastic child’s animals on a dark surface. They were the key for me to understand what photography is capable of when I was in school in the 1970’s.

Describe a personal hell. Living in a tall, suburban apartment building. Which living person do you most admire? Jane Goodall. On what occasion do you lie? Weddings only. What was the last crime you witnessed? It’s kind of a long story, but I saw a gunrunner flee into a port-a-potty in Washington DC just before being caught. What is the best way to educate yourself? Stay curious always. What is the next book you want to read? The Diaries of Paul Klee 1898-1918. Ultimate camera? For the moment, it’s both a Sony a7rIII with old Leitz lenses and a Plaubel Makina. Most used camera? Leica M6. How would you explain the internet to someone from the 1950’s? Imagine the telephone book, the dictionary, catalogues.. anything… all on the TV. Now imagine your typewriter is connected and you can control what you see by typing your request. Like that Twilight Zone episode. Are you satisfied with your level of physical strength? Good grief no. Describe a cheap thrill. Have a raccoon walk into your house. Oh.. wait, maybe this ultimately isn’t so cheap. Pick a historic moment from the last hundred years to bring a camera to. I’m completely interested in the moments we overlook rather than historic moments. The closest thought I have is to bring a camera, be witness to those times that the Atacama Desert blooms….. Are impulses more important than consequences? Consequences are more important, impulses are more interesting. Which talent would you most like to have? Learning languages. It opens worlds. What is your plan for the next 24 hours? Learn more French. Print more images. Have coffee with a friend.

Created in the space of her personal garden in Washington DC, Terri Weifenbach’s photographs reveal the secret world of nature populated by birds that nest in urban gardens. Oscillating between fantasy and reality, her images seem to be taken on the sly when birds race at top speed, dance, or settle, freeze, and gather in parliaments. The seasons follow in succession, the colours of the garden vary. Saturated light and colour, plays on blurred and crystal-clear details, and freeze frames depict a “supra-reality”. Terri Weifenbach immerses us in the infinitely small, transporting us into a, particularly lively and marvelous world.
This publication is part of the Des Oiseaux (On birds) collection celebrating, through the vision of different artists, their immense presence in a world where they are now vulnerable. Accompanying these photographs, the ornithologist Guilhem Lesaffre writes a special essay. For this title, he sheds light on the adaptation of birds in urban environments. Previous titles in this collection include: Pentti Sammallahti, Bernard Plossu, and Yoshinori Mizutani.

Bookmaking is central to Terri Weifenbach’s artistic practice. Since her first book, In Your Dreams, was published in 1997 she has authored eighteen more titles including Between Maple and Chestnut, Lana, Politics of Flowers and Gift (co-author Rinko Kawauchi). Publishers include Nazraeli Press, onestar Press and Loosestrife Press. Weifenbach’s Instruction Manual concept realized and initiated Nazraeli press’s One Picture Book series with #01, #03 and #04. In Your Dreams was included in The Photobook: A History Volume II by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger.

She has had numerous solo and group exhibitions in the United States, Europe and Japan and published widely in periodicals such as Audubon, Union Magazine and The New Yorker. Terri’s first solo museum show took place in 2017 at Izu Photo Museum in Clematis no Oka, Japan. Her work can be found in international collections such as the Center for Creative Photography in Arizona and the Sprengel Museum Hannover in Germany.

Weifenbach is also renowned as a teacher. In addition to national and international workshops, she has taught at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, Georgetown University and is Lecturer at American University.

Born in NYC, raised in Washington, DC and educated at the University of Maryland, Terri Weifenbach spent a dozen years from her early twenties living in New Mexico and California. She now resides in Paris, France. She is a Guggenheim Fellow having received the distinction in 2015.

For more of Terri Weifenbach’s work visit — terriweifenbach.com / exb.fr