Podcast: Humor, Vulnerability, and Instagram - A Talk with Artists Mitra Saboury and Ben Zank


Is it necessary to be funny to create work with humor, what is the line between humor and discomfort, can art that is funny have a serious message? How does Instagram success translate to the real world? These are some of the questions we address in this week’s episode of the B&H Photography Podcast, and while “humor in art” is our starting point, the conversation takes its own life and we touch on a range of subjects, including the role of Instagram for artists, how to sustain a creative idea, the discrepancy between intent and reception, and how to scale work for both a small screen and a gallery.

With these ideas on the table, I cannot think of two better guests with whom to have a conversation. Mitra Saboury and Ben Zank are both artists who explore very personal spheres with their photo and video work, and both incorporate humor and playfulness to express their worldview—and as a portal to explore thornier themes.

Ben Zank’s deceptively simple, wonderfully composed images, often with himself as model, explore the body’s relationship with its found environment. Placing a model in a sewer, a pothole, a basketball hoop, or under the yellow lines of the highway, Zank creates an, at times awkward, at times harmonious exchange. The almost self-deprecating humor belies a confident control of purpose and a delicate view of the human form.

The imaginative work of Mitra Saboury, whether alone or in collaboration with Meatwreck, explores the physical and psychological effects of our quotidian toils. Like Zank, there is much humor in her work, but a persistent challenging of norms and questioning of beliefs runs through her photography, video, performance, and installation art. Some pieces are discomforting, but strength through inquiry and vulnerability lay at their core. Her work has been exhibited throughout the world, most recently at the Spring Break Art Fair, in Los Angeles, but she also thrives on Instagram and encourages audience participation, whether in person or in the semi-anonymity of the Web.

Join us for this interesting conversation, organized by Cory Rice, and check out his portrait of Ben Zank in our “What is Photography?” series.

Guests: Mitra Saboury, Ben Zank, Cory Rice

Snackbreak © Meatwreck
Wavy © Meatwreck
Cheescake © Meatwreck
Nail Spa © Mitra Saboury
Found Face © Mitra Saboury
Soap Sink © Mitra Saboury
355 © Ben Zank
Daily Commute © Ben Zank
Bottleneck © Ben Zank
Nuclear Witness © Ben Zank
Ben Zank © John Harris
Mitra Saboury © John Harris
Mitra Saboury, Allan Weitz, Ben Zank, and Cory Rice © John Harris


Host: Allan Weitz
Senior Creative Producer: John Harris
Senior Producer: Jason Tables
Executive Producer: Lawrence Neves

1 Comment