How come you came back to Șimleu? It has to do with the pandemic year, or is this your permanent residence in deed? Although I have an emotional attachment to Șimleu and I could easily think of a few reasons that would make me live there, still, in terms of cultural life, it offers to little. How do you "solve" this need in Șimleu Silvaniei? Or how do you relate to this "need" of having active cultural stimulus?
After 5 years in Cluj and 2 years in London, I felt the need to return home, to return to normal. Time flows differently in a small town; here I am closer to nature. I can’t say that I miss the culture so much, I’m more intrigued by life.
I like it when my neighbor calls me to help him pick his cherries and while I pick them, he pulls out his harmonica and plays me “Open, open up the window”, a song he knows I like. Here I see creativity, I see pure art, I recognize it in simple people. Now, of course, my neighbor doesn’t know who is Damien Hirst or what MOMA is, but that doesn’t really bother me.
In addition, I collect photo books and I’m glad when any other day, some violinist comes to town for a concert. Before the pandemic, every time I had the chance, I would go to Cluj for exhibitions and cultural events, exchanging words with my fellow artists and satisfying my need for culture and art.
So you consider that you can keep your cultural landmarks in a small town also, and that you can find enough subjects that can become topics for in-depth photography. Is this related to a certain maturity that an artist can reach? To be able to expand his own artistic visions regardless of the place and time in which he lives?
Yes, I am very interested in the quality of the works I produce, my main subject seems to be the common place, something familiar and here, in Șimleu Silvaniei, I feel most at home. I don’t know if I have reached a certain maturity, I`m sure I still have to grow. I have always been interested in how artists survive in society. If you ask an artist what he lives on, he is instantly saddened and will tell you it doesn’t matter. Somehow I didn’t want to adopt this model even though the artists I appreciate the most, have or had a hard life or were only recognized at the end of their career. Creativity is a gift that many artists consider so precious that they only use it to create art.
Of course you can expand your artistic universe, you can create a universe or more than just one, no matter where you live.
Why photography, Ovidiu? What does it offer you compared to other artistic mediums?
I consider photography the most important artistic medium because it shows us the human condition in its raw form. Of course, photography is not appreciated at all as it should be. That is maybe because photography has a visual language that is very difficult to understand, thus everyone thinks they understand it. In our country, it is almost not considered art. My photo and I are exactly in the “nomansland”, between art and photography. I don’t do art, because I’m not an artist who ”uses” photography, and I’m not a photographer, because I don’t document. I feel trapped in the flow of time and obsessed with form, yet, photography is my futile effort to stop time. I seek to replace what I have lost, hurt by, or forbidden to. I appreciate other artistic medium but I think that photography, in its apparent simplicity, is enough for me.
In what way do you consider that photography has a complicated language although, apparently, accessible, intelligible?
An entire essay could be written about this, maybe even a book. I’ll try to be brief. Being connected to the world as we are, we see thousands of photos every day. We see a kind of functional photography that often has one meaning and one purpose: to inform us about what the world looks like. What we don’t realize is that we don’t see the world, we see the photographed world. Hence the confusion of photography with reality. To understand photography more profoundly, we need a visual re-sensitization. Most of the time, a good photo shows more than it can explain. Personally, I think that photos have something very similar to dreams. I see them as messages from the unconscious that, according to the Jungian model, could be interpreted. And this interpretation, like the beauty, is in the eye of the beholder and we might only find it there.
Do you have in mind some artists who use photography in the sense you were saying?
I used the phrase “artist who uses photography” in an ironic way. I was thinking of conceptual artists or contemporary artists in general, who only use photography as pure medium (technique), and it seems to me, that it somehow denigrates the true visual force of photography. Of course, this is a personal opinion and I might be wrong (maybe their art shows how versatile photography can be). So all I can do is list here a few photographers I appreciate: William Eggleston, Bertien van Manen, Susan Paulsen, Mark Steinmetz, Alec Soth, Saul Leiter, Jindrich Streit, Krass Clement.
Photography: b&w or color? :) Analog or digital? I don't want to talk dichotomously but purely subjectively: does one attracts you more and why, or simply, how do you work with all these variations?
Black and white analog and color. There`s something about photography on film, maybe it has to do with it`s texture, even if digital photography is quite advanced. The digital print offers a good image but it seems sterile, it lacks the soul. I also use black and white and color film in my projects. The color expresses a lot, it has a special abundance and black and white has depth, winter and night are black and white. There are two hemispheres, the conscious and the unconscious, at least that’s how I see them and I try to combine them to create a balanced universe. As for the analog, I like that I have to wait quite a long time, to be patient. Most of the time, when I get to see the negatives and final image, I forget the moment I took the picture, this way I can make a better selection of images. I work in time with a device that stops time instead… it seems natural to me.
What type of camera do you use? What kind of photographic film and where do you still get what you need? Analog photography has become a rarity and so has everything related to its processing.
I use several cameras but mainly: Nikon fm2, Mamiya RZ67 and Pentax 67. Film: kodak gold, fuji color, fuji provia, kodak tri-x, kodak t-max. Photography on film had begun a renaissance just before the pandemic burst, which I believe has persisted during this period as well. There are still good films and companies that process them. Film photography is not uncommon, it is increasingly used in the fashion industry for example. I say it still has enough life and a lot to say.
How did you feel the past year under the sign of the pandemic on a professional level?
For 2020 I had big plans: some exhibitions, some projects I’d started, working on another book… but that’s how it turned out. During this period I took a break. As an artist I went through similar periods before and I returned to my art when I could. I realized that life happens and it might seem you don`t have time for art but at the very same time, you could not make art without the experience of life.
Hassium by Anca B.