Jane Chardiet, also known as Jane Pain, is a second generation punk, ‘real New Yorker’, 35mm photographer, writer and musician focused on documenting ‘now’, through the lens of her own life. Over the span of one weekend spent at a noise festival in North Carolina, Chardiet captured the photographs in the series below. After a less than glamorous time spent living in LA a couple years ago, Chardiet also shares more about how she is returning to herself and her photography is as well.
Where are you from, and how’d you end up in NYC?
I am proud to say that I am a ‘real’ New Yorker, I grew up in the city.
How do you think living there impacts what you make?
Strangely, I am not living in New York City at the moment, but moving back soon. Through a series of unfortunate events and circumstances, I found myself living in LA by accident about two years ago. No joke. I had a really rough time out there and returned to the East Coast a couple months ago, but am living in a cheap suburb saving money and getting myself together. I had to get out of LA, but I didn't have the resources to move directly back to New York.
I figured a few months in purgatory wouldn't kill me, but staying in LA could have. It's quite the saga, really. I feel like I barely took photos when I lived in Los Angeles for a slew of reasons, but as it pertains to your question and to break it down very simply: Los Angeles is not my vibe; New York City is my vibe. Of course there are gritty and bizarre zones in LA, some great freaks, and a good show from time to time, but it is a whole different vibe, and I don't vibe with it for whatever intrinsic reason. New York City is such a huge part of who I am and that is reflected in my work. I need the energy, the community that I have there, the autonomy that comes with good public transportation, something going on all of the time. I primarily shoot people that I know or are involved with the things that I like, and I was a sort of lone wolf in my time in LA.
LA is a very lonely place, especially when you do not have a car. It's far away from other cities, so less bands tour there. There is basically no noise scene. There wasn't enough of what I like going on, and I didn't really get to see the people that I did like there nearly enough - and I mostly like to shoot people. People there are generally tamer, and move there to have a nice house and a nice job and settle down and eat nice food. Things felt so much more sterile. As a result, I didn't have as much going on in my life and did not feel inspired. New York City inspires me, and I think it impacts the photographs that I take, for sure. I always identified with being a New Yorker, but I didn't realize how important it was for my photography until I wasn't there. Thankfully I am living about an hour outside of New York and go visit almost every week. I feel like I am returning to myself and my photography is as well.
How’d you develop your photography style? Did it come as a natural outcome of being part of a specific subculture?
Because I am entirely self taught, my style really developed through making mistakes and learning from them. Because the primary purpose of my photography is documentation of my life, it is naturally reflective of subculture at large because I am a product of subculture and am active in counterculture, whatever that means.
Tell me more about your music. What’ve you been up to with it?
I sing in a band called Safe Word, which is a three piece weirdo band with just bass and drums. I fucking love it and I fucking love the dudes in my band, and it is so much fun. We recorded our demo right before I moved back East, so we would have a document of what we worked on all summer - and much to our surprise, people were really into it! I was flown back West to play our first show together, weirdly. I am really hoping that I have another opportunity to play with Safe Word - maybe go on a little tour on the East coast or the West coast; work on a couple new songs through phone recordings, ha.
If any promoters out there wanna book Safe Word, get at me. One of my goals of living in the suburbs was not only to save up to move back to New York City, but also to save some money and to try and get to Berlin where my bandmate in Appetite, Ciarra Black, lives so we can record and hopefully revive our project. We have been playing music off and on for about ten years, and although we are not technically active and have not played a show since I left New York City, I don't think it's over. I don't think it will ever really be over. I am trying to plug in my gear and play around as much as I can, but honestly, I don't really like to play music by myself. It can feel nice emotionally, but I never feel like I produce something as good as when I have the chance to collaborate with other people. I have to push myself a lot to play music alone, and while I am always happy that I did it, I feel like a lot of other stuff accidentally comes first, mostly because I can not keep my gear set up right now. Now I am inspired to jam tomorrow, ha.
You’re a writer as well. Do you find a lot of overlap in your photography, music, and writing, or do you keep the three practices pretty independent from each other?
Everything is connected, just different mediums work better to express different things. I get imposter syndrome pretty bad sometimes, and will get down on myself for not have one area of mastery in the arts, but I am just naturally inclined towards producing photography, writing and music. I go through phases when I am more or less concentrated with music or writing, however. I practice photography most consistently. I write a lot, but I do not generally share it. The older I get the more private I am becoming, although it may seem that I am an exhibitionist.
I write non-fiction, and it can be deeply personal, the sort of things I don't even say out loud, the things people do not know. There are things that I write about that I do not want on the internet or tethered to me for the rest of my life. I have thought about publishing anonymous zines or something, but that doesn't feel quite right either. I wish I had done a better job at separating Jane Pain, which was my nickname turned artistic allies with Jane Chardiet... But everyone knows they are one in the same now.
If you could photograph anyone who would it be?
That is such a good and hard question. I have had the fortune of shooting a bunch of my musical heroes at shows and stuff, but often times there isn't a reciprocal relationship. I think one of my major photography blue balls moment was going to Genesis P. Orridges' apartment to interview them, but was denied taking photographs. It was one of the best conversations that I have ever had, and I wished so badly that I could have taken just one picture. Maybe I would choose to do a collaborative project with Genesis and have the chance to pick their brain once more while they are still with us and making art. Maybe Joan Didion? I would love to have a conversation with her, and she has such an intense photographic presence. I could go on and on, but I will stop. Wish I could take a picture of every person.
How do you navigate the current social and professional landscape where everyone thinks they’re a photographer?
Everyone is a photographer now - just not everyone is a good one, ha! It just kind of sucks because it makes me feel sort of ashamed sometimes in certain situations, like I want to legitimize what I am doing and separate my taking photographs from someone else taking photographs, and that is kind of nasty. I also get bummed when I am at a show or something and the front row is all photographers manically elbowing each other watching the whole show from their digital camera taking photos the entire fucking time. I try not to be so concerned about what other people are doing or why, though. I got my little 35mm, I try to get the right moment and I try to be in the moment. Taking photographs is part of the excitement of a lot of situations for me, but living my life comes first.
This photo series is all from one weekend - can you tell me about that weekend?
Coeval found me through a photograph that I took of my friend SHV playing her guitar with a hitachi magic wand - which has now been through the internet meme ringer. These photos were taken at an annual noise festival called Savage Weekend in North Carolina. I have been to the festival like seven times, I am beginning to lose count. It is my favorite music fest, for sure. It is like a big family reunion and it is really well curated and fun and smelly and weird. My main camera got messed up the first night while a bunch of people were moshing to a teenager (Total Mom) setting fire to something in a microwave, so I had to pull out my point and shoot. A lot of people incorporate performance art elements to their set at Savage Weekend. Alley's set was in that tradition, and began with her wrestling the audience, but it also sounded great - it wasn't all a schtick. It is definitely not for everyone, and isn't intended to be.
The close up portrait of the person with the pink hair is my favorite from the series. Who’s this picture of?
That is a performer from Miami called Juju Pie. There was a post fest matinee at the local record store All Day Records, and they a great set that made people cry. I had noticed their teeth in particular all weekend, and hoped that I would maybe get a good picture of them. Even though I took some photos of them performing, when I saw them walking away towards their car with their gear, I felt compelled to chase them down and ask if I could take a portrait, which is a bit out of character for me, but I really wanted to capture them. I was literally running down the street after they were a block away yelling ‘Juju Pie!!!’ Thankfully, they were familiar with my photos, and very gracious about letting me take some photos!
I read in a previous interview that you have band tattoos - what are they?
I have two Psychic TV/Throbbing gristle tattoos. I have a V Manuscript tattoo - actually a line from a song I first saw performed at Savage Weekend a few years back. And I have a Joy Division tattoo.
How did you first get into noise rock, thrash and punk? What do you think continues to attract you to that community?
I am a second generation punk, actually. Both of my parents were punk. I got into noise through the band Pissed Jeans. I liked them, and they played a noise show and I went, and the rest is history. I felt like I found the thing I had been looking for all my life. Aside from the music, punks and noisers are my people.
What draws you to focus on counter culture, sexuality, personal politics and underground music in your work? Is it because that’s what you identify with, and a space you’re navigating within yourself - or is it to explore something else?
I want to document now. There is a part of me that hopes that I will look back at the photographs from this past weekend, for instance, and feel that it perfectly encapsulates my experience in this particular time in history, maybe even in ways I won't even understand until I am looking back. Like reading an old diary. I think my subject matter gets to the heart of a lot of contemporary culture at large without being super heavy handed. I also just like music and my friends look cool, what can I say?
courtesy JANE CHARDIET
interview AUDRY HIAOUI
More to read