The Reservoir

Conversations on Photography

“I made a decision a few years back to embrace my role as being the ‘desirer’...”


Lindley Warren Mickunas    The more time I have spent with Bo Lily the more I have noticed ways in which this image is dualistic and deceptive. An example of this is that the calla lily, which is in fact not a lily at all, is traditionally associated with purity. However, I can’t help but see this flower as being erotic with its central erect stigma amplified by the camouflaged spider crawling along its edge. This impression is also informed by the photographs you sent me alongside this one that, to me, have a very distinct sexual tension.

Aubrey Trinnaman     I see what you mean. Although I was not intending to convey it directly, I see that the flower, as well as the spider, is sexual. When I really take the time to listen, I feel that our sexuality is everything, yet we often complicate that. The “sexual tension” you mention is, to me, the feeling of being a living-anything. This is my experience anyway. To be alive is a precarious walk on the edge of something vital, unpredictable, and sublime in its dangers and rewards. It’s a dance we have no control over, but we try gracefully at. I see the stigma. And I see the orifice. I see a spider finding a white flower to exist safely in, and scaling the edge of. It just so happens to be an uncanny and gorgeous reveal of camouflage to someone who is not interested in eating the spider.

Aubrey Trinnaman, Bo Lily, 2017

Lindley    When you created these photographs, did you consciously attempt to express sexuality or do you think it showed up purely as a result of seeing the world through your own bodily experience?

Aubrey    I think both. Mostly the latter. When you first commented (after receiving the batch of images to choose from) on how much sexual tension you felt in the images ~ I had three thoughts:

“That is Lindley's perception based on who she is.”

“Yes, I can see that now even in the images I didn’t think of being salient in their sexuality.”


All felt true. I feel they are sexual in that I’m a person who is quite often reminded of the sublime duplicity of being a breathing being. Being in my body means I create and partake, therefore I am sexual. I think a lot about fruit and flowers and how we are all fruit wanting to consume and be consumed. Some berries wear their seeds on the outside hoping to be eaten and therefore perpetuate… Also, it had been a very challenging year that included deep heartbreak and much disorientation.  I have a lot of feelings for which I often need to find avenues to exercise. I had made a very overt and earnest decision to transpose any emotional clogs in my system, including any mourning and desire related to my sexuality and creative languages. Again, I want to stress that ‘my sexuality’ means... my wholeness.

Aubrey Trinnaman (from top): The Moon and Lily, 2017; Bo Lily II, 2017; Plum Blossoms at Last Light, 2017

Lindley    I was curious to know how you felt about me seeing the images that way. To me, the sexuality was quite strong. For instance, all of the fluids squirting out of fruit that a man is eating, and your own piss marks, two dogs interlocked while fighting, and flowers placed on top of but not fully covering a man’s genitalia. I assume others may have a reading much the same as mine.

Aubrey    I think you’re likely correct in that assumption, although not all the images in the batch hold as much tension as others. But yes, the majority are quite intimate images that emerged from patient spaces. I would guess that there would be varying responses and readings as far as intimacy and sexuality go.

Lindley    Perhaps that is my mistake, to read the intimate as sexual.
Aubrey    I don’t think you’re mistaken. I think it’s all the same. The piss mark is a good example of that coexistence to me. It’s body fluid, and you see my body mark in the sand…. Perhaps one might read the marks as ‘sexy’ because there is a hint at a position my body must have been in at that moment, secreting fluid. When I document my piss ~ it has something to do with marking a place, communing with the land, showing myself, reclaiming feminine dominant language.

Lindley    Those elements also come through strongly with your piss mark photographs. It is interesting to think about how those things relate to one another, how in order to reclaim a feminine dominant language a woman must make a mark and reveal herself.

Aubrey Trinnaman, Piss Mark, 2014
Aubrey    It is one language, yes. I try to not overthink it, and trust that if I want to pee on something, then it’s good to exercise that. Animals have been doing it for always. That said, if I start to parse out the intentions behind it… I’m making my mark in a way that is more about projecting than being projected upon. I’m very interested in that particular mode and extremely delicate and conscious about how I, as a woman, am projected upon. I made a decision a few years back to embrace my role as being the ‘desirer’ as opposed to the ‘desired’. It’s very important to me to embody this mode at this point in my life, with as much compassion as possible.

I also feel some sense of responsibility to debunk myths around what is feminine and masculine, and reveal the marriage of it all.

Lindley    Intimacy is something that shows up in a lot of the imagery you create. On your Instagram, you have been sharing video portraits of individuals you meet. You appear to have a special way of making people feel comfortable and thus capturing an affinity between the two of you. Can you tell me what this process is like for you?

Aubrey    The process of interacting with strangers is one that keeps me vital. I have always found comfort and a sort of magic in ‘threes’. I feel that a triangle of energy emerges from two strangers meeting in a collaborative space spontaneously. The ‘third body’ of energy could possibly just be the synergy that’s created and takes on a character of its own. It could also likely be the energy that ignites when sharing that interaction… the viewer experiencing it. Whatever it is, I like to exist in this place as a participant and liaison, or translator.

It’s hit or miss whether someone will be receptive to you considering your tools of documentation, and it’s a delicate, nuanced dance of how to communicate not only with words but mostly energy. Sometimes it seems that a camera is a safe play-zone that a stranger and myself can agree upon meeting within. Sometimes it feels more like a gun. I feel the same about it myself. This is a consistent qualm I have with documenting despite my innate tendency toward it. There can be such a fine line for me between profaning something by documenting and honoring it, and perpetuating more curious vital momentum by engaging in the collaboration and sharing the documentation of it. I’d like to always be careful about those lines. And I can only hope to maintain a discerning sensitivity.

Aubrey Trinnaman, Bear Heart, 2016
The process of meeting in the middle in a quiet trusting moment with a total stranger is beautiful to me because it’s very vulnerable on both sides. I believe the strangers sense that from me, too.

We jump into it with the faith that there are good intentions to ride on somewhere in there - that something will surprise us both and we'll move forward with a weird new breadth to our vision even for just a split second, before a bird shits on our shoe or something. It’s invigorating and grounding to connect in this way.

Also, I think it may mean some sort of death for me if I stopped exploring my curious tugs.

Aubrey Trinnaman (from top): Burnt Toast, 2017; Time moves both ways, 2016; Ids, 2014

Lindley    When we've spoken previously, it sounded as if you’re in the process of making multiple bodies of work. Can you tell me about them?

Aubrey    Sure, yes, there are many. I’m currently exploring some themes around my Mormon upbringing. I am en route to Utah to join a few pioneer reenactments that the Mormon youth take to pay homage to the original pioneers who trekked along the Mormon Trail. They push handcarts with their food and belongings, sing songs, and bury their ‘deceased’ babies.

I’m also exploring some themes about women hunters and fishers.

I continue to document my daily life and curiosities in collaboration with the sun and elements where I live. I’m currently very jazzed about the passage of time and what it can do to memories and photographs. I’m experimenting with some solarization and pickling of photographs.

Lindley    You were in Europe recently and mentioned photographing Norwegian and Icelandic female factory workers. How did that go?

Aubrey    Good. It is the very beginning stages. I think, as is usually the case, the ‘themes’ will reveal themselves as I explore, which keeps things real and vital. This project is revealing a lot of feelings I have about the land and sea and its finite resources. These women are working so hard. I’d like to know more about them, aid them in their path, and unveil what it means to be a working woman.

Aubrey Trinnaman interviewed by Lindley Warren
This interview was first published by Rubber Factory Posters