Interview: Laura del Rey

We interviewed the Brazilian photographer Laura del Rey. 

You can check out the online exhibition we curated for her work Love is a Losing Game here

I2: Why choose photography as your medium?

L: To be honest I didn’t chose  in the way of dispensing others. I also work with video, design and text. What I like is the connection between ideas – be that in images, moving or still, or words. What is unique in photography, however, is that it allows me to concentrate on the present as almost nothing else can – not as a theme but as presence really. I have an anxious tendency that disappears whenever I get the camera to search for something that I feel or interests me. The time shifts and I feel weightless there. In other works, like design or video editing, I first get into an accelerated motivation, of the act of creating itself, which is stimulating, and soon the thing transforms itself in a certain pain, which only relieves when the work is done. The other day I read in Stay, by Nicolas Wormull, a quote I really liked: I’m trying to remain in the present, but it is often too late

Photography, maybe, is this place where I can simply be. Afterwards, looking at what I produced, I certainly go back to suffering with the thought of where that came from and where it will go, but I think its difficult – and not interesting – to create narratives without going through this cramp of digging through the meaning of things. Maybe what I see in photography lies precisely in this shock: being in the present while the image is, instantly, the past; between the moment’s contemplative –sensorial and the seaquake that is trying to produce meaning with that to someone else.

I2: Your first photo book is HART, which is completely different from LOVE IS A LOSING GAME, in a way, since HART looks to the exterior, to nature and LOVE IS A LOSING GAME is almost an intimate documentary. Could you explain your position between both works – technically and conceptually?

L: In some weird way I feel my intimacy most exposed at HART then in LOVE. Or as exposed as. Although, now that I think about it, they both deal with the same thing, albeit in different manners: the process of tightening and loosing up, of wounds and healing.

The first might sound less personal or cold with those almost-abstract and rather gloomy landscapes but both bring a feeling and a perception of the common world – and are the counterpart of the other, literally, if you consider that we did the photos for HART while, behind the cameras, we lived the photos of LOVE.

As a process, the projects are inverted. One tries to dry the imposition of extreme landscapes, trying to disrupt the tourist’s gaze, disrupt the look of a beauty hunter and try to come to something more contradictory, more… combative, maybe? Certainly more graphic and symbolic; that passes through the fog, some miles after the exhaustion, a curve further away…trying to feel it a little more from the inside. And always with a lot of care for the framing, the use of lenses, the colour… It’s a project without any waste. The other is the opposite. A search precisely for the waste; reusing a material that, initially, would be trashed. These photos are almost rushed and without any more criteria then the minimum exposition to distinguish the codes. We know it is never totally arbitrary, but the incidental and spontaneous hold sway there. So, what separates both projects is not really the theme as much as the approach. As if HART was the work of photographing my family and LOVE was a work, which rummaged through other people’s archives – which, by luck or misfortune, it’s also us!

Hart

 

I2: How was the photographic process in the end of the relationship? Was it harder to produce it?

L: Curiously no. Some of these photos, made in Argentina, date from months before it ended and, to be honest, because we were somewhat tired (of thinking about those images, of carrying weight, of feeling hot, me a little tired of him and him of me…), we photographed much less than in previous trips and sharing the equipment was easier. In Alaska, a few years early, we almost killed each other because of a Jubarte’s photo, which He made me loose (laugh). But there is something almost tasty, too, in this instant in which you want to photograph and someone else has the camera. While I waited, many times, I improved many photos ahead – and this divided a little the compulsion which the flux of the digital thought can generate; it would made me look more and enjoy the places more.

I2: There is an almost narrative sense in Hart, which is somewhat present also in Love. Which words guided you in this work?

L: In Hart, the conceptualization was around ideas of paths, scars, ruptures, sediments, dreams, life/death etc. In Love I think a lot about a puzzle as well as physical and memory signs. I also think a lot about games and numbers, which is where I think I can find formal solutions. With Love there are faces, two explicit characters and an “authorized invasion” situation… I think the bridges it requires are completely distinct from what we managed to get with the landscapes and the minimalism of Hart. In Hart, it was fundamental to disorient the spectator, search for an atmosphere of strangeness, not recognizing things although one knows them – but the path was there. In Love maybe it is about instigating the search for information and narrative details on these photographs – which are initially comprehendible, but whose path does not exist. I think it is a more demanding Project both to me and to the spectator. Maybe one must go a little bit through the emotional zigzag that the end of a relationship often is. I think Love asks for a sort of archaeologist reader.

I2: If you could list songs that represent moments of your relationship, which ones would it be?

 L:

Love is a Losing Game – Amy Winehouse

Todo o Amor Que Houver Nessa Vida – Cazuza

Inside and Out – Feist

Is that all there is – Peggy

All of me wants all of you – Sufjan Stevens

ps. listen to it here

I2: Is Love a concluded Project or do you plan on expanding t?

L: I think it accepts a few formats. I have thought about an unique artist book, for instance, without reproduction, which is almost like a shuffled memory box, focused on the idea of an intimate puzzle. But I am still thinking. It is quite delicate to mess with these images… I often get paralysed upon deciding.

I2: Can an image change the world?

L: Images can and do change it. Not all of the time, not always in an instant impact, not in the same way for everyone, not always more to those who receive it then to those who make it, and not always the other way around. And, of course, not necessarily in a positive way. But I don’t know if you were asking me about the risks of over exposing, digital trash and the image war (laughs). I can be very nihilistic or very optimistic. I really like the new generations, to be honest, and their questions. And I think that humanity is in a constant production mode, learning how to read images and transform itself, right? I want to believe that the sum of these three little truths add to positivity in us; maybe they are the only possible outcomes – or certainly not exit strategies but more interesting ways to keep questioning. While we question ourselves, is the cup is half full or half empty ? Did I drink too much coffee? (laughs).