You’re headed out on a trip, where are you headed?
We’re headed out in our 1976 GMC RV from Venice Beach to Alaska. We are going to take six weeks on the road exploring the state of marriage and monogamy in our culture.
So this trip is for a film you’re doing?
This is for the film yes. The film is Monogamy & its Discontents and its a look at love, relationships, marriage, divorce, fidelity, infidelity, and all the ways we define ourselves through relationships and seek to find meaning in relationships. This started as a project of shorts called The Love Project that began when I got divorced after nine years of marriage. I wanted to explore the subject of love, and find different perspectives on what had happened to me. Millions of people go through this sort of rupture in their lives, so I started doing interviews, beginning with the incredible Roberta Haze (watch video here), this wonderful woman that is refreshingly candid when talking about love, sex and relationshps . We tend to look to one person to fill so many needs in our lives: we look for a loving companion, a financial partner, a sole sexual partner, possibly the parent of our children, and we want this person save us and we are sold this story on what love is supposed to look like, and if it doesn’t look this way, we are made to think something is wrong. So I think its time to ask some difficult questions and to pick apart some of the unspoken assumptions of our culture.
How does fashion factor into relationships?
Well its a real double edged sword. On the one hand fashion is, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, something so ugly and empty it has to change every six months. There are issues around the objectification of women, people being reduced to how they look, and being made to feel inadequate because they are unable to live up to unrealistic standards, all because models are being photoshopped to look inhuman. These are things that we hear often, but they are real problems that need to be addressed. On the other hand your style is hopefully an external manifestation of who you are. We’re not just inner beings and we do have an outward shared space that we live in, and how we inhabit that space and make ourselves appear to others is important. Everything from the way we dress to the buildings we inhabit, but I think it’s vital to find a way to do it that is authentic to who we are.
Photography has changed my life giving me a mode to engage beyond the “traditional” social media connections we seem so enmeshed in. How does technology and photography factor into your life?
Technology can be a way of isolating you from the world, even though you think you’re connecting, especially with social media, you’re not. In fact you’re ignoring the people around you. Similarly, photography can either create a barrier between you and the world or in the best case it allows you engage with the world in a more profound way. To see the world photographically I think is to see it in a richer way.
What do you think about Abbot Kinney?
Well there’s another double edged sword. I’ve been in Venice since 2001 and Abbot Kinney was a sleepy street full of furniture stores, 10 years before that it was so dangerous that you wouldn’t want to stand out on the street during the daytime. Over the last decade there has been this incredible transformation and a lot of great things were lost, I used to live in a school bus (www.lafco.tv) behind this great Skate shop (The Board Gallery) and we had eight people living there. It was this wonderful scene of surfers and artists. It was a place for bohemians of all kinds. I think a lot of the flavor of Venice has been lost, but I think something will take its place that resists Abbot Kinney being made into another 3rd Street Promenade or Melrose. Abbot Kinney has kept its own identity. Thats the risk in America: the strip mall culture where everything becomes indistinguishable, and even though Abbot Kinney has changed it at least maintains its own identity. I think thats what allows it to be called the coolest street in America by GQ.
Absolutely, I think we are all looking to engage with the world in a meaningful way. That means with each other and with our craft, those are our two primary ways of engaging with the world. I don’t think going into yourself is the answer, I think active passionate engagement with what you love to do and with the people you love is the most important way of finding significance in life.
Monogamy & Its Discontents Movie Trailer from Tao Ruspoli on Vimeo.