Border Crossings (2006) - Alfred Hitchcock Paints a Photograph
- article: Alfred Hitchcock Paints a Photograph
- journal: Border Crossings (01/Aug/2006)
- issue: volume 25, issue 3, page 16
- journal ISSN: 0831-2559
- publisher: Arts Manitoba Publications Inc
- keywords: Alfred Hitchcock, Creativity, Marnie (1964), Photographers, Photographs, Photography, Vertigo (1958)
Karin Bubas's most recent body of work came about through her response to a themed group show held at Monte Clarke's Vancouver gallery in 2005. The exhibition was called "Park" and so Bubas dressed herself in a white trench coat and went to Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver, where she had her partner photograph her standing beside a huge Redwood tree. The photograph, called Eurydice, was a restaging of a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo. I had a really positive response to the mystery of my face being turned away from the camera and the relationship between the figure and the landscape, so I decided to experiment with the way Hitchcock creates mood and drama and apply it to some of my photographs." Bubas wasn't concerned to recreate film scenes exactly; sometimes she was after less specific aesthetic characteristics. While the photograph of the girl and the horse does reprise a scene from Marnie, Pink Dress and Cherry Blossoms was less about Hitchcock's locations and plot devices than his use of colour, "Marnie has red and yellow and while no specific film of his uses pink, if he had made one, that's what it would have looked like." (Bubas's Hitchcockian photographs comprise the art pages in this issue.)
She is candid about the influence film has had on her work — through framing, composition and how drama is created — but she also emphasizes the impact of painting on the way her photographs look. "When I was working on the girl in the pink dress, I had been looking at some Fragonards and some rococo paintings that were over the top with flowers and frills and wind."
This kind of detail is the key to each of the bodies of work Bubas has completed over the last eight years. Whether she is photographing the synthetic nature in Tokyo's concrete underground (Happy Friday Night, 1999), or rooms abandoned by prostitutes in Vancouver's East Side (Lean's Palace, 2001), or the interior of an old London house (Ivy House, 2003), her method is to pay scrupulous attention to small things that occupy large spaces. It's a lesson she admits learning from her Russian Doukhobor grandmother when she photographed her grandparents' home in Florence and George, her "first attempt at trying to create a portrait through someone's interior space. My grandmother worked on decorating and really taking care of each room — from lampshades to pillows to wallpaper." These kinds of details — empty hangers clustered in the corner of a closet, the stain on a storage chest, the way a blue towel hangs on a drying rack in a London house, the arrangement of round wall ornaments on striped wallpaper — constitute whole pictures in her work. "I like to think about the stories behind those items. I know some people describe that work as banal, but I don't see it that way. I see it as an anthropological study; it's all these elements and details that make up who we are and how we live our lives."