WCW: Jessi Lembo

 

Photos Courtesy of Jessi Lembo

 

We first met Jessi Lembo when she DJed our Terrible Two After Party last June. Since then, we've been bumping into her at concerts, shamelessly stalking her Instagram, and gossiping about the art scene over beers and cigs. A Photography student at FIT and intern for Nan Goldin, Lembo seems to always be creating, an energy we all long to have. Read below to learn about our first WCW's creative process and thoughts on the artistic culture that she is currently thriving off.

 

Photo: Jessi Lembo

 

POND: You focus heavily on self portraiture in your work, when did you start photographing yourself? Do you prefer to use yourself as a subject?

JESSI: I started taking self portraits back in high school for my photography class. There were a few times when it was 3:00 am the night before my class and since it was late, I didn't have any other subjects. At the time I didn't like shooting anything besides human subjects, so shooting myself became the only option. Shooting yourself is easy because you don't have to work to communicate exactly how you want your subject to pose, because you yourself are the subject. I enjoy shooting myself because sometimes I'll just be in the mood to make a photograph. I'll have nothing in particular in mind, just an impulse, so I just work with myself. I work better when it's unplanned, or just going off a very small idea and allowing it to grow.

 
  Photo: Jessi Lembo

Photo: Jessi Lembo

POND: What is it like working with Nan Goldin? How do you think that affects the way you think about your own work?

JESSI: Working with Nan has been pretty unreal. I've spent months archiving thousands of slides that practically no one has never seen before. When I see so many incredible images for hours on end, I'm in a constant state of inspiration throughout the day. My mind wonders about these images. And then my own thoughts branch off and my own original concepts and ideas start to formulate. Most of all I learned how important it is to keep your mind stimulated with not only just inspirational images, but any sort of media, like cinema, music, real life- anything. Staying in that constant state has helped me substantially. 

  Photo: Jessi Lembo

Photo: Jessi Lembo

POND: How would you describe the Brooklyn scene of young artists that we are currently living in?

JESSI: I started exploring the Brooklyn scene 3 years ago as a freshman going to shows at 285 Kent. In high school I was a complete introvert, and going to college I made the strong decision to become more outgoing, even if it was completely forced. But I went with it. So at these shows, I made it a very important point to talk to people. If I liked their show, i'd tell them. I'd talk to anyone. I'm still in touch with a lot of these people now and they've introduced me to more people, and the network just keeps growing. The Brooklyn scene of young artists is a lot smaller than I expected, and it became more apparent once I moved here a little over a year ago.

Living in center of it all has been nothing but extremely inspiring and exhilarating. There is always something to do- events, shows, and parties to go to. No matter where you end up, you'll know someone. And if you don't, someone you meet is somehow connected to your circle. And there is a huge comfort in that. There is also comfort in the fact that I know that I'll always benefit from the conversations I'll have, whether it be with a stranger or a friend. Talking about the type of art we do, even if there is a difference in medium. Relating or comparing. I've had conversations in these situations that have completely changed my perspective in a wonderful way.   

POND: Do you think it influences the way you work?

JESSI: Without a doubt. People, space, time, and memories fascinate me. I'm currently working on a project called "Instances" (Linked is the most recent chapter, Instances II). It's an ongoing project that serves as a visual diary of my life. I'm currently working on a book that encompasses the first 2 chapters. And I'll always continue with it. It's shot with a point and shoot 35mm camera that I bought at a junk store.

 
  Photo: Jessi Lembo

Photo: Jessi Lembo

  Photo: Jessi Lembo

Photo: Jessi Lembo

 

POND: How does social media and the internet influence your creative process and the way that you work?

JESSI: Social media really hasn't influenced my creative process until recently. About a week ago I had some really cool artists follow me on Instagram, and then Aperture Foundation followed me as well, which kind of made me shit my pants. I've already started using my Instagram account as a casual portfolio, posting my serious work as well as silly little things I come across,  but my immediate reaction was that I had to post more, and have it be good stuff. Now I know that my photos will be floating around on their newsfeed and have the possibility of being seen, so it's been kind of giving me an incentive to build something out of nothing whenever I have the gift of spare time. To take the smallest concept, whether it's just the thought of two different colors, or a specific shape, and really work to make something out of it. And it's honestly a fantastic thing. Sometimes you just need a little push to realize your capabilities. 

  Photo: Jessi Lembo

Photo: Jessi Lembo