Dev Hynes, New York, September 2014. Photo by Matthew Leifheit.
Hobbes Ginseberg is a 20-year-old Los Angeles-based photographer who doesn’t want to make a big deal about their gender but prefers the pronouns she or they. They moved to Seattle after completing high school, and a year and a half after that followed their dreams to Hollywood. We met when I was in LA visiting artists on official VICE business last month, and I was immediately struck by Hobbes’s alert, inquisitive presence. After having known each other for no more than five minutes, we decided we should work together on an issue of MATTEmagazine to be released at the New York Art Book Fair this week at MoMA PS1, and went to the roof of the hotel, where I made the above cover portrait. I only had four frames left on my roll of film, but somehow each picture turned out to be interesting. Hobbes is someone who uses their self-image as their art, so this wasn’t actually that surprising. A mix of politically engaged self-portraiture in photography in the tradition of Catherine Opie, Cobain-scented soft grunge internet phenomena, and something indescribably glamourous and completely their own, Hobbes’s Selfies made me want to find out more about them.
VICE: How did you start taking pictures?
Hobbes Ginsberg: I used to do a lot of street photography. Taking pictures started for me on a trip to New York in the summer of 2010 and I had this “professional” point-and-shoot camera that I borrowed from a friend. I started taking photos of all the people I saw on the street who interested me visually. I had a vague idea of what street photography was at that point from deviantART, and on that trip I saw an exhibition by Henri Cartier-Bresson and some other old guy I dont remember. It took off from there. I did a lot of street work in Nicaragua.
When did you start taking pictures of yourself?
About two years ago I stopped shooting outside for a long time, and felt a need to turn inward so I just took a ton of selfies. It was easier for me to try new things that way. I borrowed some lights from the yearbook team at my school, and thats how I first got into studio work.
What kind of role does taking pictures of yourself play in your life?
In terms of my oeuvre, most people care the most about my selfies, and its what cemented my current aesthetic. It also the work I make that is the most cathartic for me. I get into these moods where I feel really shitty, and the way to fix it is to take photos.
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Check out Baltimore artist Ben McNutt’s queer perspective on wrestling in issue 24 of ‘MATTE’ magazine, available now.