Talk with Giorgia Bisanti

Why do you photograph?

Today I photograph because I simply could not do without it. My way of thinking, of communicating is expressed in the form of images. The act of photographing is very instinctive for me. Browsing through my family albums, I found some photos dating back to elementary school in which I had a toy camera hanging around my neck, I vaguely remember that I used to take it with me on trips, then around the age of sixteen I was given a Fuji-film  hybrid camera, a mixture of compact and SLR, and from there I have never been separated from the camera. I took it with me especially on trips, I didn't like the idea of seeing places and people for a short time and then letting them go. I think the idea of the fleeting nature of things and time frightened me and that's why I approached photography, a medium that gives you the possibility (or the illusion) of holding onto moments, of creating memories.

What do you want to communicate with photographs?

Photography is my way of communicating, with myself and with others. What I want to communicate depends on what I experience, what provokes my emotions, what I want to reflect on. What fascinates me about photography, and images in general, is their ability to synthesize. Photography allows me to say many things with silence, it can speak to many people without my presence, it is a form of representation of the self that acts in the absence of the self. The images I produce are evidence of what I am, with or without my awareness, so photography is also a way of knowing myself and what surrounds me. Photography is also an occasion, an opportunity, an excuse to be in the world and leave one's mark. 

How important is for you the use of digital or the use of analog?

Digital or analogue have the same importance, for practical matters I usually use digital, but I also use analogue, especially with instant photography. What is important is to always be able to surprise yourself and experience the magic of creation.

What made you choose to continue towards the use of photography in your past?

"Choose" is a difficult and meaningful word. In the past I found myself choosing between photography and other paths when I chose my path of study at the Academy and later when I decided to consider photography also as a profession, but it was inevitable, for the moment taking photographs is what makes me happiest.

How important is the place where you are for the development of your photographic projects and how do you benefit from it?

In this last period I realized that having a small space just for me helps me a lot to conceive and develop my photographic projects. As far as the outdoor space is concerned, it is important for me to be familiar with what I see in order to go deep and capture images that are not superficial glances. I live in a town in the province of Naples and I realized that the place where I live has shaped my way of focusing on certain aspects of daily life, on certain urban landscapes or human behavior. Let's say that from a photographic point of view the province is a subject that interests me a lot and I find it stimulating, while in big cities I can't find the same inputs.

How do you think photography can develop with the current stage of COVID19?

The advent of this pandemic has, for the first time in the digital age, brought the world's population face to face with common themes. From the moment that all of us (photographers and non-photographers) have access to a medium to produce images, photography has become the privileged medium to narrate this historical moment, both from a social and more intimate point of view. All this, I believe, has led to interesting results on the one hand, but also to abuse and speculation on images on the other. I believe that in this period we need to ask ourselves what is essential to tell and what is not, and above all how to do it.

What impact did living in quarantine have on your life and how did you react in the development of your artistic processes?

During the quarantine period I was able to focus a lot on myself. Not feeling too much pressure from the outside world anymore allowed me to better focus on my goals and gave me time to figure out how to organize myself to achieve them. It has also given me the opportunity to dedicate myself more serenely to my artistic research, and I hope to be able to maintain this balance in the future, when the same hectic life starts again.

If you had money, what kind of work would you focus on?

If I had some funds I would like to use them to carry out a project shared by several people, which reflects on a particular theme within a specific place. I would like to work on the Campania region analyzing themes such as tourism, idleness, the relationship between ancient and contemporary, history, memory. Every time I visit a place, from the coast to the hinterland, I find many interesting ideas on which to work, possible stories that would be worth telling.

If you had to choose one place in the world where you would spend your days photographing, would there be one?

Choosing a place where I would spend my days photographing (but also much more) would mean choosing a place that I would like to get to know in depth, being a curious person there are many, even very close to me, but if I had to think big then one out of all is South America, I would like to explore Peru, Brazil and Colombia.

How important are the subjects in the photographs you take? Do you think it's important to know the people you photograph or do you prefer to keep a precise distance?

When the subjects of my photographs are people, they are almost never people I know; if I photograph them it is because in that moment they represent an idea, a symbol, something that goes beyond themselves and I want to capture them in a spontaneous, almost transparent way, I never ask someone to pose for me, I prefer to "steal"; I'm not one of those people who takes pictures of their friends or acquaintances, I feel uncomfortable doing it, even if I'm a bit sorry, because I find it a great skill to be able to photograph people and clearly you have to know them to do it, now I'm trying to open myself more to this possibility through my professional path.

What do you think about the current photography scene? Do you think that there are more opportunities or that this excessive number of contests only continues to benefit those who can afford the expenses?

Surely the large number of contests and awards set up for photography is a bit confusing, it is not easy to know how to choose what to participate in or not and to understand what is worth paying for or not. Unfortunately I don't think this question has a real answer on my part, I am of the opinion that only experience will make me better understand certain dynamics and I am confident in the fact that with a good work to present the opportunities will come sooner or later. 

Do you think it is difficult to work as an art photographer today?

Working as an art photographer means entering the contemporary art market system, and I don't think it's easy to enter this system if you come from outside this world. Just as entering institutional and museum environments is probably difficult without intermediary figures. Producing art is one thing, being able to sell it and make it your job also means possessing many other qualities, not strictly artistic ones.

Which are the projects that have excited you the most to produce and which ones the least?

Well, the projects that have excited me the least are perhaps those that I have not completed, I don't know, sometimes you lose enthusiasm, confidence, but it also depends on external factors. My first project, Impossible Places, I produced in a week practically after I had found the right path, other projects maybe I took them in phases far apart but probably that time was necessary for the understanding of the project itself.

Are you working on something new?

Yes, I'm currently working on a project in which I investigate the change that has occurred in our perception of people and places as a result of the long period of social distancing that we are experiencing.

How difficult is it to get your message across through the eyes of the people who support your work?

Getting your message across to the eye of the beholder is part of the photographer's job, it's clear that you also need a little education in the language of photography, but in general, always looking for feedback on your work helps to understand if we are going in the right direction or not and gives you the opportunity to improve.

Would you like to make a publication? A photobook, magazine or experimental project?

Yes, why not, in fact I would definitely say that it is in my plans.

How many hours do you spend on photography?

I can't quantify it, photography is present in all my days.

Have you ever thought about the use of digital exhibition spaces? Would you ever organize a virtual exhibition?

With the forced closure of galleries and museums we are seeing the emergence of various exhibitions taking place on the web. From my point of view this new way of enjoying art is not totally negative, because while it is impossible for us to physically see what was more or less close to us, it has given us the opportunity to virtually reach exhibitions in every part of the world, increasingly expanding communication between artists from many different nations. Obviously if I could I would never give up the chance to attend an exhibition in person, just as I would love it if people decided to go to a place to see my work, but to answer your question I am not against virtual exhibitions for the moment, I would participate.

If you had to ask yourself one question, what would it be?

Are you really going out of your way to express who you are?

Show us a photo that you think is one you would never post in your life, a scrap!

I show you this photo because it's really weird, I don't know if I would publish it or not, it's a photo taken seemingly without any intentionality and yet it holds something unexplainable, I wouldn't know how to present it, but I like it. 

Giorgia Bisanti

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