photo: Carolina Cruz Guimarey
Äkkigalleria interview with Carolina Cruz Guimarey on Wednesday September 10th, 2014.
Äkki: This is your first time to Jyväskylä, and to Finland. What are your first impressions of Jyväskylä (and Finland)?
CCG: I feel that Finland is a place to get lost in a forest. That is what I really have loved and after walking between the shadows of the trees find out a lake, quite and silence. Here, nature is everywhere but it is not overwhelmed it is kind. I have felt protected, lost in a forest, alone, trying to be part of the nature that surrounds me. Peaceful. Finland is peaceful. Taika is one of the first words I have already learnt in finish, guess why.
Äkki: Today you experienced the Finnish sauna for the first time. What kind of experience was this for you? What images from this experience have stuck to your mind?
CCG: It was so liberating! I was able to forget about my body and get completely relax, it is not only a physical relaxation but and mental stay of serenity. The most special moment was be alone, swimming, and naked in the lake’s cold water after the sauna. It was a moment of extremely beauty and calm. You can feel part of the nature that surrounds you.
Äkki: The theme of home, the environment created in and by the construction of a house is a re-occurring subject in your work. What is your first memory of Home? Or can you describe when you first grasped the concept of home?
CCG: I think this concept interests me because I don’t really know what it means. Personally, it is a space of emptiness, something I try to understand, and something I have always been looking for. From the point of view of our society the concept “home” involves a lot of complex realities, from people who have lost their houses in Spain because of the economical crisis to people who are looking for a new homeland beyond the borders of their countries, some of them risking their own lives, some because of war conflicts. So, is home a house, a city, a country, or just a feeling? I don’t know. But in some kind of way we assume “home” as a part of our identity and our memory. Maybe it is just a dream, a state of mind.
Äkki: You are a multidisciplinary artist, which means that you work with many tools to create images and installations. Photography is only one of these tools. Could you replace photography in your work?
When I choose photography to develop a project it is because this project works better this way, I am not looking for the value of the image itself. I’m not a photographer strictly thinking about what that means, I just use my camera when I need it to tell something, I don’t catch images around me, I create those images, I provoke them. Nowadays, It’s easier to improvise in front of the camera, to let you go, almost by instinct, mostly with digital technology. My photo projects are often related to actions, usually in the form of portraits accompanied by same kind of performance where I play some role in a defined space. It’s like the result of a secret performance, some mystery that involves the space or some objects. I have some ideas, some feelings, then I chose the composition, I search for a kind of light or a special place and I let things happen. I only could do that with photography. I guess some people do that with drawings…I use photography to built my images.
Äkki: In an interview you made with Laatikkomo a few months ago you talked about photography being like a door into another dimension: “a door to a timeless space that gives you the freedom to build new identities”. Are you also building yourself a new identity? Or because you often use yourself in your images, are you building an alter ego?
CCG: Not, exactly. I use my own image because it is practical; I am always with myself so. And that let me improvise much more. But I don’t think I building myself a new identity or create and alter ego. When I appear in my images, it is not me, it is a woman who is there. Usually you cannot see my face, there is nothing that tells you about me, it is a woman, could be you. The images come from me, from my concerns, my feelings, my wonders, but then they become another thing, they are not about me anymore.
Äkki: Some of your series includes found images, or other people’s family portraits, what is your interest in other peoples’ photographs? What do they give to your series?
CCG: Found photographs have a great influence in my artwork. I have been collected this images since a long time. I like the mystery that they have, this is the “door to a timeless space”, they talk about others and at the same time they talk about us. This photos capture personal special moments but I could be our lives, ours grandmother’s life. That is fascinating, we are all the same. We are here for a short time and then we left and we all go throw similar experiences, love, joy, lost, fear, dead. Besides, I have use found photos in lot of my artworks, mostly to talk about women, women reality and history.
Äkki: You seem to go on a lot of artist residencies: just finished a residency in a small town outside of Paris and now you are in a smallish middle sized town in Finland. What importance does a residency have on an artist, and what is the importance of the artist to the community of residence?
CCG: Art residences are for me essential. The periods I have spent in art residencies has let me grow as a person and help me to expand my view as an artist. Also, art residencies give me the possibility of being absolutely focus in my artwork, far away from home, I have a clear goal, develop a concrete project, take as much as possible from this period of time, usually I went back home with some new projects in mind too. Besides, the new places, the new people, everything is positive. My periods in art residences are like oxygen for me, let me breath. Moreover, I have met the most wonderful people from around the world thanks to this opportunities and I have find out magic places, little towns like Guenalguacil (Malaga, Spain), Uncastillo (Zaragoza, Spain), Vilanova de Cerveira (Portugal), Marnay-sur-Seine (France) and now Jyvaskyla. The community also gets enrich with the artists in residency. Local artists get new international nets and people of the community, mostly in little towns, get really involve in the process of the contemporary art and it becomes part of their lives.
Äkki: What kind of photography (or art) is currently popular in your hometown?
CCG: I don’t really think that the kind of work that young photographers are doing in my hometown are really different from the work of other artist of the same generation that I met in Europe. I guess all of us we are living a similar moment so the things that concern us are similar too. In Galicia, my region in Spain, there are several young photographers who really have a interesting work: Carla Andrade, Jesús Madriñan, David Catá, Ruth Montiel, Veronica Vicente, just to name some of them, the list could be much more longer. All of them are doing international exhibitions very successfully. Carla Andrade’s work is focus in landscape and nature and in some kind of way also Ruth Montiel’s work. I think this is an international tendency and it is logic. This is an issue that concerns specially our generation. We are re-building our relationship with nature.
Äkki: Where do you go to seek inspiration? (To a place or an image, a book, an action…?)Many projects probably have their own source of inspiration, but is there one source of inspiration that you continually return to?
CCG: Poems, words. Often inspiration comes from them. But also my life, the things that worried me, the things that happen around me. Fears. Wounds. Secrets.
Äkki: And now some one word/short answers:
CCG: Here, green.
CCG: Found objects
CCG: Home (less)
CCG: End, Fin(land).