Posts Tagged ‘ Photography ’

Interview with Guan Zitian

管子天 Guan Zitian was born in a small village in the north of China, in 1978. Now he is a documentary director and freelance photographer based in Beijing. His artist’s statement is one of the few things we can find about him on the Internet:

Not for fortune nor for fame.
Shooting no beggars.
Shooting no handicapped.
Shooting no reluctant subjects.
Neither recording misfortune of life, nor violating the privacy of others.
Only reveling in an affection to nature and the sensations of life.

We can’t find much information about you on the Internet. Could you please tell us shortly how you started taking photographs? Did you study photography in school or on your own?

I think taking photos is a very personal thing. I refuse almost all the invitations of photography events and contests.

I was a bad student and I never went to university. Photography doesn’t require education, but it needs a sensitive and desired heart.

I wanted to take photos because I desired a camera. It was a luxury for our family to possess a camera, and during my whole childhood I had only taken two photos. Later I bought a small 4mega pixel digital camera, with which I shot people around me everyday. Eventually everybody said I was good at taking photos. At that time, I didn’t even know what a professional camera was.

Shooting no beggars. Shooting no handicapped. Shooting no reluctant subjects. Neither recording misfortune of life, nor violating the privacy of others.” We found these words on your Flickr page. Why did you decide not to portrait this part of the life that could be  «not so beautiful»?

Personally, I don’t want to be forced, neither do I desire to force others.

From bottom of my heart, I admire desperate and melancholy atmosphere, which is not delivered bluntly by the miserable people in life. Instead I prefer veiled expression. I respect individuals and their feelings. People is a part of my work, and I don’t want my shooting to become one of their miseries.

In your photographic work, we can find portraits of children from rural environment. What can we see or learn about you in these photos?

Once I went back to my hometown. I was disappointed to find significant changes that have taken place. Less and less kids were there, and there is less and less vitality. From then on, I went to shoot these children. I was actually shooting my own childhood, my nostalgia.

Although I know all is gone, I am still reluctant to let it go.

Did you find problems when taking pictures of certain kind of people, the children, for instance?

The most difficult part is undoubtedly my laziness and procrastination. The rest is not a problem. There are too many things distracting my attention.

When you take pictures of landscapes, you show large pieces of land, and most of the times they are rural and lonely places. Do you prefer showing these areas of China rather than big Chinese cities?

Maybe it’s because I love being free, and a stretching boundless horizon. However, when I am truly in this situation, I find that we are lost, becoming more lonely, desperate and ignorant.

Admittedly, the pace of urban construction in China has been on a rocket, yet it’s a total failure. The unexpected change of time assimilates Chinese cities, causing them to lose their characters. Once I indeed made a brief trying to explore this issue by filming, but I was really not a fan of shuttling in the city. I don’t want to force myself into that.

How do you combine video and photography? Which of them do you like the most?

I am a director and that’s how I earn my living. It’s something I have to do, no matter I love it or not. But photography is a different story. it’s my true love. That’s why I only shoot what I like when taking photos (never to cater to reputation or benefit)

Who is your reference in photography?

There are not many photographers that I know, neither I am keen on watching big-name works. What influence me most are poems, other literature and Buddhism.

I believe reflection upon reality and life is my best mentor.

What do you think about Asian current photography?

I have limited knowledge about the photography circle. However, I have seen some works by modern-day photographers on Internet. Many of them are limited by the photography itself, instead of striding it as a tool to think.

To me there are two levels of photography. The first level remains a feast for eyes and the second level dives deeply into your heart.

All the techniques become embarrassing and trivialized in the eternity of time.

Time will filter everything out and leave the classics.

Interview with Phil Toledano

Why do you take pictures?

My father was a painter, but i was usless at that, so  i started taking photographs!

Sergio Edgardo Andrada Lapenne:  What do you understand by “art”?

I suppose art, for me at least, is an expression of things within me. intellectual, emotional things, but feelings and thoughts that i must say out loud.

Your first projects, like Gamers, were very intellectual, and then they became much more emotional. Has it been a conscious evolution? Has it been an inner search o it has been something that just happens unconsciously?

Unconsciously for sure. I just follow my heart, although it’s safe to say that since doing ‘days with my father’, i’m much more focused inwards than i used to be.

Fernando Gómez: I love your project Days with my father. I think you have been able to find beauty in your father illness. I suppose that it must have been a really touching project. Was it hard for you to carry out this project?

It wasn’t hard to do ‘days’. What was hard was the experience of taking care of my father. Of being confronted with the idea of mortality, both his and mine, every day, for three years.

I’ve heard that there is going to be a film about Days with my father, can you tell us something about it? Are you gonna take on the direction?

The book was optioned to be a film by a company in LA. I’ve written the treatment with a friend, and hopefully we’ll write the screenplay. I don’t think i’ll direct. It’s a long way from becoming reality, but it will be an interesting process. I’m worried of course, that the story, or the idea, will get lost, or become something i don’t intend it to be, but i don’t think there’s much i can do about that now!

In Kim Jong Phil, instead of taking pictures, you paint. Did you enjoy the experience? Are you going to keep experimenting with different forms of expression?

America The Gift Shop AND Kim Jong Phil are both non-photographic ideas-and i really love reaching beyond taking photos, although i’m not actually doing the painting or the making of the pieces-i just come up with the ideas!… To be honest, the things that really inspire me these days are not photographs, but sculpture, painting, installation…

Are you going to keep working on The reluctant father?

I’m not sure. I don’t really know how good ‘the reluctant father’ is, really. I think it might be too ‘neat’ in the way it ends.

How do you know when a project is finished? How do you know when to stop shooting?

I always know when something is finished. I’m very aware of not wanting to say too much-i often feel that photographers say too much-that there’s not enough space left for questions, for your own mind to wander…

What gives you ideas and inspires you to create your work?

Everything, and nothing… To be honest, i really have no idea… I’m amazed and terrified because it would be much easier if i know where my ideas sprang from…

Do you think about how a certain work is going to be sold when you set it out?

Never… In fact, it’s safe to say that not much of my work sells at all… Sadly, i don’t make art that people want to hang above the sofa in their living rooms…

Fernando Gómez: What are the greatest lessons you’ve learned in your photographic career so far?

That everything is possible, and that i’m not going to be an overnight success.

Fernando Gómez: Something you’re still learning about photography?

I’m not really learning about photography, i’m learning about myself, how far i can go, how much further i’d like to go…

Moni Navarro: Film or digital? Why?

Digital, because i’m lazy and i don’t really care about techinical stuff!

Do you do the retouching yourself? Do you have a regular team who helps you with this?

Retouching only really happens on editorial work, but someone does it for me-i’m terrible at that kind of thing.

Fernando Gómez: You believe that photographs should be like unfinished sentences. There should always be space for questions. What kind of questions and answers you think people get from your work? Do you think that the same project can arise utterly different questions?

I have no idea-you’d have to ask them! But in some ways, i’m delighted if the same projects makes different people ask different questions… Isn’t that one of the points of art? To move the mind?

How was the experience of being selected in Descubrimientos PhotoEspaña 2010?

I was happy to get in, but disappointed not to win!… I’m very attached to Spain, since that’s where my family came from, a very long time ago…

How do you face the prizes and recognition?

I don’t think i have that much recognition, so i’m always suprised by it!

Gloria: What else are you passionate about, other than art and photography?   

Light, watching everything, being suprised, eating chicken fried rice, making my two year old laugh uncontrollably, video games, feeling anonymous, hearing someone say they like my work…

The best tip: do exactly the thing you’d like to do, and don’t listen to anyone else-the world will let you know if you’re a genius, soon enough.

Spanish translation.

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