So Matthew, what were you doing in New York?
I was there for a month at Terence's request. We'd met and hung out in London a few times. One night, in the early hours, he jumped up and said I had to do a show in his gallery, AsiaSongSociety. The plan was to go, stay there for a month, and mount a show at the end.
Did you have fun?
It wasn't just a holiday with a ready-made show of pictures by me, on the wall at the end. Everything that was in the show was made in the space and informed the month I spent there. It was reassuring to know that what I do translated in another city.
It seems that you have to have personal connections with the people you choose to shoot. Did this make it difficult to find new ones in a new city?
I do feel that I can't photograph just anybody, but it's not like there is some secret elite. Sometimes, even when I'm working in London, they're not necessarily people I've known for very long. It's much more to do with knowing people on a level where I feel comfortable to be open emotionally with them. This can definitely happen very quickly, within just one conversation. I get really excited meeting new people and by talking, and this was an opportunity to do that.
Is your art basically just photos of young, good-looking people?
Physical youth itself is immaterial to me. But I'm definitely drawn to the point in people's lives where they are beginning to define themselves and deciding how they are to live their lives within what seems a very weird world. There is an optimism of youth that I find totally seductive as a romantic idea, but I think its more than just that. It is a place where anything is possible and boundaries are not yet set in stone. Some people seem to have found ways to hold onto those instincts without just withdrawing into themselves. I think humanity needs these dreamers to stay as they are for their entire lives, and to celebrate them. I certainly do.
Why don't you photograph old people then?
It really isn't about age. There are some people who live their entire lives as seekers. For example Alanna Heiss, who I met in New York, really struck me recently. She started the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Centre in the early seventies and has continually worked to support and facilitate artists.
Did you have fun at the Frieze Art Fair the other week?
This year is the first time that I've been involved in the art world in a direct way. It was the first time that I showed my work in a proper gallery space rather than just squatted venues. I still had to use UV nail polish to make a fake re-entry stamp to get into Frieze on the opening night. We got about ten people in that way! I'm still blagging my way in.