Self-interview after FotoFest 2014
After four days of intense reviews at FotoFest 2014 with some very influencing curators, gallery owners, publishers and collectors, I have been going over again and again in my mind, what I was asked and what I answered -or should have answered without the pressure of time and being nervous. Words, sounds, faces and emotions are all blending in. I decided that if I ask myself about some of the most important topics discussed, I could grasp the essence of what I learned.
So, in a time of countless self-photographs and self-marketing I thought of having a self-interview. Here it is:
Why do you do photography? I come from a family where many of us are in the arts and since a very early childhood it was encouraged to be artistic. When I was about 11, eight cousins of us would organize art exhibits in the neighborhood where we would sell our paper drawings. We would greet our guests with magic tricks, dance and poetry; they would enjoy the performances, laugh and buy our color paintings. With the earned money we happily bought candies and ice cream. Those are beautiful memories.
As a teenager I started inheriting my father’s cameras and my first subject where my two beautiful twin cousins which I captured in black and white. Then, with my father who is also an architect, we would travel on architectural tours he would plan. My subject became entirely architecture and I liked to have my photos without any people at all in them. I will painfully wait or desperately gestured for people to move out of frame. I did very rigid photography until one day I stopped. I was saturated and never again touched the camera with the intention to artistically photograph. In 2009, I closed my architecture practice and took a sabbatical in search of an abrupt change in life that was gestating to come out of me for some years now, and for which I moved as remote as I could and to engage on nothing related to architecture: I decided to volunteer at a yoga retreat in Hawaii taking with me some very special spiritual books, a hammock and a new digital camera. For six months I cocooned. I broke that cocoon with the camera feeling I was born again and my new form of expression was photography. That's why I do it. How do you do this? All the work is done on camera. The effects you see are a result of how the light is carried through a moving lens during the exposure time. I’m inspired by the Dadaist’s principals which embraces part calculation and part chance to capture impressionist images. This manual technique allows me to manipulate what we see onto something that we don't, but is not fictitious. I create a new rendition of reality: The light exists, the shapes exist and the shadows exist. I also explore with the color and its variations and saturations that some photos lead to suggest. That said, I want to clarify that I don't use Photoshop to digitally paint or construct a photograph with the computer.
Are you and architect or a photographer? I don't see boundaries between artistic fields, and believe inspiration expresses itself in many art forms. I can't imagine compartmentalizing my brain and sensibilities into one 'career' as for art is universal and indivisible. Some of the most important artists of all times have been many things at once, and I’m a believer that this ability exponentially nurtures creativity. I can be doing photography today and tomorrow designing a house too, maybe a furniture piece or writing some poetry. Its hard work to succeed in many art fields, but the challenge is there!
What photographers inspire you or you look up to? None. I haven’t followed closely any photographer, nor have one name that seems largely significant as inspiration to me. I love the work of some photographers, but I don’t seek direct inspiration from them. David Bowie once said ‘The only art I’ll ever study is stuff that I can steal from’ and when I come across a photographer’s work that is similar to mine, I question my own work in relation to what am observing. That said, I do have found immense inspiration and attraction on how some other artists are able to create art in infinite ways on very diverse mediums. For example Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Richard Serra, Anish Kapoor, James Turrell, Monet, Lichtenstein, Kandinsky, Miro, Picasso, Dali and Hieronymus Bosch. My inspiration list doesn’t stop with these artists and continues with musicians from the likes of Carl Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’ to Michael Jackson to the band Sigur Ros. Also I find inspiration in the minds of Buddha, Ekhard Tole, Carl Jung and Plato. I am starting to study further the work of Moholy-Nagy and Man Ray and the Dadaism and Fauvism. These years have been of self discovery and all these studies will give me a lot to think about and process, because as Goethe said ‘We are shaped and fashioned by what we love’.
What are you expressing with your art?
Reality gains an unexpected appearance with an enigmatic and spectral feeling in my photographs. The camera movement and the effect of light extend shapes and colors onto a new being and serendipity is the underlying factor for it. Some images have a spectral quality that are captivating, and other images have a spiritual feeling, which seems to be a topic viewers get to feel with my work as if the auras of the subject were exposed in colors. I have thought of titles which may help me reach out further to express a level of consciousness. Titles like ‘Love and Fear’ speak about the two primordial motives humans have for any action to be taken. The series ‘Words’ is intended to question the subjectivity of the title word in relationship with the building photographed and how a new message is created. That said, I don’t particularly push any topic per se with my work at this point though I feel there is a latent message starting to express and am working on defining it.
Did you like the advice you get?
Absolutely. About a year ago I read a small inspirational book titled ‘Steal like an artist’ where the author said ‘All advice is autobiographical’. One has to receive all criticisms, praise and advices with understanding of where they are coming from, as it teaches to see our work with new eyes and to debate within oneself. I was very happy to hear that my work was liked a lot and I got some potential offers which I will definitely pursue. Other criticisms were tough albeit very constructive and ultimately helped me define and structure my work better. I wasn’t interested in hearing ‘I like it’ or ‘I don’t like it’ which is something completely subjective. Since it was the first time showing my portfolio to professionals in the art world, I was after an educated conversation and I got it. It’s definitely a rewarding experience which I will repeat and recommend.