A very drunken nonsensical interview on the steps of some terrible bar in Lido after the Peanut Butter Wolf gig on April 26th 2016
RM: Yeah record this and make something of it you wasting piece of shit.
KL: We’re very drunk but here I am with the greatest* photographers in Beijing and they’ve got a show coming up. Tell us what it means to you to be a photographer.
RM: [affects BBC voice] Well, you know, on the flipside of the lens, when you see that stuff happen before your eyes and you also get the chance to record it, you see that not only is life happening but that life is happening before your very eyes. That’s always a profound thing to happen and that profundity, as a a photographer you don’t take it for granted because us photographers we take that stuff and we see it and lots of people don’t see that stuff and we really see it.
JA: We’re a rare breed. We see things other people don’t see.
RM: My mind is often blown by how little people see the things in life. You know the guy cutting hair in the street and the guy, you know, he’s playing chess in the street! Oh my God!
KL: Can I just say what you’re doing right now, everyone is doing, what makes it different?
RM: Well what we’re doing different is that we have really fancy cameras and we’re just doing it in a really fancy way. We’re doing it in a really luxurious way.
JA: We do it better than other photographers because we shoot film and that’s a superior art form basically because digital, anyone can do that with their iPhone really can’t they?
RM: Me and Jon like to call it “luxury photography.”
RM: Can your fancy machine record my hand movements?
KL: Shall I get some comments from these onlookers? What do you think of street photography?
Onlooker: Utterly pedestrian.
Onlooker 2: Boring!
RM: If I’m in it, it’s great.
KL: So tell me, what is it about your photography that should make me give a flying fuck?
RM: Nuffing. It’s all worthless. It’s an utterly worthless art. We’re all idiots
Onlooker 3: I concur.
JA: It’s a waste of time and money.
RM: Everyone is trying to emulate the greats in today. That’s what we’re trying to do.
KL: Who’re your photographic influences?
RM: The French dude. I can’t remember his name.
JA: Mr Bresson.
RM: Yeah yeah yeah, Bresson.
KL: The French dude.
RM: The French dude.
JA: I feel like he’s one of our contemporaries. We do things that he really hasn’t managed to do but, you know, he tried.
RM: He did try. He tried really hard.
JA: And we’ve built and developed what he’s worked on and we feel like, we’ve found better symmetry in Beijing than he has in his whole career.
RM: Oooooh! Burn you French cunt!
KL: Would you say fearful symmetry?
KL: Tiger tiger burning bright in the forests of the night?
RM: Eugene Smith. Wanksmith that’s what I say. You and your war photography, yeah. Life is a war. Life is a war. But if you want to quote anything, I would say that my opinion of photography is that, if there’s a tier level thing, war photographers are top. Eugene Smith. I watched a documentary about a war photographer, they’re my heroes.
KL: Are you wandering off now?
RM: There’s no way that you’re going to use that. Where’s my beer?
KL: Jon Jon, tell me…
JA: Don’t ask me anything difficult.
KL: I’m gonna ask you…
RM; There’s one thing I want to say, Noel Fielding if you hear this, make another series of Luxury Comedy not like the second series. I know there’s a lot of haters out there. Make another series like the first season of Luxury Comedy. Not many people liked it, because they’re idiots, it was the best thing ever made in the world. Make another season. Am I nothing?
KL: I would definitely second that because the first season of Luxury Comedy was the most precious thing that has ever been on television. Love you! Ryan, would you like to ask Jon a question about his photography?
RM: No. No.
KL: Let me think of a genuine question about Jon’s street photography. You’ve been working with film for a long time and using a lot of expired film.
JA: Most of my life, most of my life, yeah.
KL: How do you find with the expired film when you have no idea what you’re shooting, the idea of the spontaneity that you get in the end, how does that effect how you work as an artist?
JA: Well, you just put it in the camera and I call it spray and pray. You’re familiar with it. You just stick it in and you do your best and see what you got.
KL: I’m now carrying Jon’s child.
JA: That’s the size of it, so to speak.
KL: So you have no idea what’s going to come out.
JA: Yeah, very little unless you’ve shot a similar roll before and, you know, it’s good fun. You have a try, you see what you get. What I like is , it’s like life – it’s full of disappointments – you’ll probably get nothing but every now and then you get something a little bit special that makes it all worth it.
KL: I’m gonna run this for sure.
RM: I really want to buy a Dictaphone.
*nepotism at it’s finest
Ryan Monfared and Jon Allman's photos will be displayed at Wujin, 38 Jianchang Hutong, Dongcheng on Saturday May 21st.