Meet Brooke Williams as she discusses the Tribeca art installation and the SoulCycle family.
SC: Why don't you start by describing the installation, or at least how you envision it.
BW: The plan, as far as we know, is going to be a wall of Polaroids in the neighborhood of 18 feet wide by 6 ft high--about 1200 images in total arranged within a grid. The plan is to place it on the wall behind and above the desk of the Tribeca studio that they’re building, so when you walk in this is what you’ll see.
SC: What would you say this work is about?
BW: Basically it’s a celebration of SoulCycle and the SoulCycle family. So there will be pictures of all the different teachers, pictures of all the different classes, people coming into the classes, people leaving the classes, details shots of bikes, shots of people’s hands. We want it to have a little bit of a party feel to it. It’s going to basically be a big kind of energetic, happy representation of the good vibe that the SoulCycle family has created. I think it will look really amazing.
SC: What's the largest project you've done up until now?
BW: I did a big piece that’s all Polaroids of people’s hands. That was all basically over a six and a half year period. I just took pictures of the hands of everybody I had some kind of significant encounter with. I’ve done a number of different series of related images and put them together in a big kind of wall way, but this is definitely the biggest I’ve ever done. So it will be fun.
SC: Do you have a particular process for putting the pictures together?
BW: I go with my gut. I start spreading everything out on the ground and see what I think looks cool next to each other. You want to spread out the pictures of different people. I’m not arranging them in any specific order. It’s more how the individual images feel and how to make the most interesting whole piece.
SC: When did you start doing projects like this?
BW: Actually the first one I ever did… it hearkens back to September 11th. I was in Manhattan at the time and the only camera I had with me was my Polaroid camera. It was just such a weird and momentous time that I wanted to make some sort of record of it. And so I started taking pictures of all the signs that people put up, all the lost signs. And basically, just to kind of arrange them, I started putting them up on the wall of my studio as a grid. I really liked it, so then I went out and shot lots more. I probably took about 300 images of those signs. Then I started thinking about all sorts of other things that I was interested in.
SC: How do you think Polaroid as a medium affects your work?
BW: It’s a couple different things. One is that I grew up as a kid in the seventies and the SX-70 camera – that was the camera. It was so fun and it was such a seminal part of my visual universe growing up. And I think those seventies Polaroids really impacted my visual aesthetic. Also, it’s all about memories. All of my photography is super personal and it’s all about the way I navigate around the world. Polaroid is, to me, really nostalgic and they feel almost already like a dream whereas the physical object for me of a digital photograph doesn’t have that. They feel more impersonal as objects. That doesn’t mean all digital photography is impersonal, I definitely have seen some really amazing work. But for me, I tend to use a digital picture if I’m scouting a location or doing something like that – it’s very businesslike and matter of fact. And Polaroid is more this cherished object in and of itself.
SC: Does it seem odd to use words like "nostalgic" and "community" in reference to an exercise studio?
BW: I might have thought that, but after hearing Amy talk about the way that SoulCycle’s come about and also just meeting and talking with Julie and Elizabeth... I mean, it really is a community. These people... it’s such a little crew. I think that in a way it makes perfect sense.
SC: How would you describe your first impression of SoulCycle?
BW: It’s a family feeling--that's definitely the vibe I’ve gotten. It feels very much like everyone’s in it together. People come from all sorts of super high-powered crazy lives and then they come in there and suddenly they’re all in it together and hanging out and having a good time and supporting each other. Sue talked a lot about the group energy--vibing off each other while you’re riding and all kinds of things I never would have associated with a spin class. But it’s actually really great and super motivating. I definitely worked a hell of a lot harder listening to some of the stuff that she shared than I would have if I were just by myself listening to my iPod.
SC: As an artist, are you strictly a photographer?
BW: I am a photographer and a musician, artistically. I'm also a writer. I like to just call myself an artist because it keeps it open. But I cannot draw for my life and I’m definitely not a sculptor. I tried to paint my daughter’s face for Halloween... it did not work out well.
check out more of Brooke's work here: http://www.thisisauthentic.com/