by Ginger Rudolph
When I first contacted photographer William Hundley, I had a hunch that he didn’t take himself too seriously. I was hard-pressed to believe that anyone putting a Chihuahua on top of cheeseburgers had an ego complex. Hundley’s photo series has a run of eccentric themes with simple titles. Because of the nature of the photographs, I wanted Hundley to have fun with his interview answers. “Let your personality shine through – think ‘humor with a splash of serious’,” I told him. So, without a spectacular setup, you’re about to read our informal back and forth.
HAHA Magazine: Let’s do a review of your past photographs – a ‘mini retrospective,’ if you will. What comes to mind when you look back at “Things I Do in My Garage”?
William Hundley: Going into my garage and doing some more things.
HM: I left myself wide open for that…
WH: Yeah, you did. No, seriously, I am currently working on some things in my garage for an installation in Austin on July 17th at Co-Lab.
HM: There’s a particular piece in that series that grabbed my attention; it’s entitled “This Business of Art”.
WH: It was a collaboration with Paul Moncus and Peter Von Diest. I bought the trucks at a garage sale that morning, and Paul picked out the book at a nearby Goodwill. After making this piece, we envisioned a machine that would put wheels on any book that was run through it. Like an assembly line scenario that could be used to turn every book in a library into a huge population of books on wheels.
HM: Books seem to be a running theme in your work – there’s one in the series “w/ cheeseburgers” as well. The books you choose all have really great titles by the way – great conversation starters. Do they serve a purpose?
HM: Convenience? I have to say I was looking for something more, you know…meaningful. But I can live with that. And what about the cheeseburgers, because I could amuse myself all day long by taking wild guesses at what “w/ cheeseburgers” is about. But something tells me that your explanation for this series will be much more entertaining. Please do ramble on about how you came up with this piece – there are cheeseburgers under chairs and fake Easter Island statues. Were you smoking anything weird as you conceived it? Or did you give that to the dog?
WH: I’m not too sure how the cheeseburger series started, but I know that when I began to show the photos to others, it perplexed them. It is ridiculous. It is a waste of food. Why would you do such a thing? What does it mean? Do you eat them afterward? Is the Chihuahua real? Were you drunk when you thought of this? Are you drunk right now? Are you trying to look at my ass? Are you even paying attention to me?
Seriously, these are all valid questions, but I prefer to let the images do the talking. Enjoy.
HM: “Little Naked Person Storage” is some of your more recent work. I have to tell you; every time I look at the pictures, I wonder how you persuaded them to be a part of this. Are the spots they’re cradled in important or just unused space now filled by warm bodies?
WH: Sometimes when I talk to people, I look at their size and then think of the different places I could put them. I interacted with a man at the store the other day and I wanted to put him in a nearby recycle bin. He would have been a perfect fit.
HM: Have you noticed that certain elements are recycled in other series? Do the separate series have an intertwining meaning?
WH: I don’t know; do they?
HM: I asked you first.
WH: Then yes, there are some recycled elements in my photographic work. “Meaning” is something that the viewer should apply to what they see or try to find in something that they don’t understand.
HM: I feel guilty for enjoying this chat so much. Now I feel obligated to punish you with clichéd questions so that people will feel like they’re conferring with the artist in you…
What do you see as your strongest period of work? Why?
WH: I am probably stronger today than I have ever been.
HM: How long does it typically take to plan out a photo series?
WH: I am not big on planning.
HM: All these photos seem like they took some pretty intense setup time…any good stories? The shot that just didn’t happen? The dog that wouldn’t stay put?
WH: Yeah, there have been so many silly, scary, and downright ridiculous encounters along the way…I guess my favorite would be when we almost got knifed on the east side by a crazy old woman.
HM: I’d like to hear more about the crazy old woman, please.
WH: She was old, crazy and did not speak English. She kept yapping at us and pointing for us to go away. We might have been on her property, but I couldn’t tell. I just kept smiling and saying “OK” and continued to shoot photos. She went away and came back with a huge kitchen knife and started swinging it through the air. It was really a beautifully bizarre moment.
HM: Ok, enough of that. Here’s series of silly questions: Just what you do in the garage when no one is looking?
HM: If a cheeseburger was slated to be your last meal, what are you going to have it with?
HM: It’s a “Little Naked Person Storage” horror shot…where would you be terrified to be put naked for the shot?
WH: A heated oven
HM: We just met at a party, and you’re trying to impress me by explaining the series “Entoptic Phenomena”. Sell it to me in two short sentences.
WH: I’m wasted! Here is my card.
It you’d like to see more of William Hundley’s work, check it out at www.williamhundley.com
all photos courtesy of William Hundley