“I am a promiscuous artist fascinated for the moment by the speed of photography”, Liza Ambrossio, winner of the New Fnac Talent 2018
We met her as a result of the award of the New Fnac Talent Award of Photography 2018 for her series ‘ Naranja de sangre ‘, but this young Mexican photographer already has several awards and an interesting career thanks to a very personal and imaginative work .
And the projects of Liza Ambrossio mix different formats and all kinds of sources to create a unique personal universe that is nourished by cryptic paintings, performance , macabre files, interventions, videos, psychology, dreams and lucid nightmares, witchcraft, science fiction … Without a doubt, it is a very special artist with a rich inner world, as was clear in the interview we had with her and which we transcribe below.
Thanks for chatting with us Liza. As usual, we start by asking about your career. How did you start? What is it that led you to become a photographer?
A cliché truth is that an artist is not made, born. For me, there is no greater lie than the over-education of art; It is castrating what is natural or what is not. The same goes for high performance athletes, opera talents and aspiring saints. I was already an artist since I have memory and I am learning to live with the freedom that is innate and in defense of my work. I dedicate myself to this because it is the only thing I know how to do and that is what I want to dedicate my life to.
As a child I studied classical painting, but I do not consider myself a painter with capital letters. Then I spent a couple of years sculpting imaginary characters in corn dough, plasticine and things like that. Soon my mother discovered that she wrote very well, but she did not like what she wrote because even then it was radical and I liked to base my characters on the people close to me -as most writers do-; my faculties won me several passes to therapy. So writing was fine, but secretly.
Later, when I was 16, I woke up, took some money from a drawer and went to a store in the historic center of Mexico City. I asked the seller to give me the best I could buy with what I had. I did not know how much it cost.
At age 14 I was part of a collective of activists for the LGBTI community. We went out to do performances and to parade with paper dresses. At 15-16 years old I left home and started living insane thanks to scholarships abroad (United States, Iceland and Spain) and it was at that moment where the connection with many of the most important artists began. of Latin America and agents of art in Europe, which would authenticate my potential to make video, continue writing and photographing. The rest is a mixture of falls and jumps on the fly. But, that’s how I joined the world of mirrors.
No doubt your images are out of the conventional. How would you define your work? In what genre would you frame it?
I do not fit my work, there is nothing more far from my way of understanding the world than the pretense of a structure. I let work send in my life and build itself.
Your photography mixes many things. How is the process to get to unite things as different as those that appear in your images? Does everything arise spontaneously from your imagination or is it the result of a long process of elaboration?
All the processes detonate something inwards or outwards and my work comes from within, from the entrails, and then opens to interpretation.
How important is religion in your work? And psychology?
All art has something religious, but I do not mean the religion of books, but the spiritual and philosophical mechanism that we all contain to try to approach the divine and the demonic. My work can not get away from that tension because I am a very current being and that is allowed to invade by symbols of all kinds: Psychological, political, personal … And at the same time I am very denied to proselytizing and to relate to the thought of religions, without ever abandoning the searches of how the thought and the actions that continue it are conformed or destroyed.
Is it true that in your beginnings you took photographs of events? Did you have much later influence in your work?
Yes, “red note”, which is a type of Mexican photography that does not have translation to the press of other countries. It is about stalking war, torture, destruction and self-extermination without apparent meaning. Over time I have interpreted it as a symptom of Mexican thought and society always erupting. When you are living every morning, the death of someone you do not know will stop you from caring who that person was and you turn, as Emile Zola said in ‘ La obra ‘, the shadow of the nauseating.
Something well known is that Mexicans have a fascination with death, sensuality and violence, it is something epigenetic, we carry it in our blood, from indigenous peoples to the way we eat, drug trafficking or how to approach life.
Doing this kind of work gave me permission to observe my most anguished nightmares and dreams without prejudice. Although at the same moment many stories happened to me: I had just killed my best friend of those years, a photojournalist who had adopted me as a little sister. I do not know if I had reached the age of 18, but the pain was on me because from one night to the next I had run out of it, with no place to live and also, they had offered to walk me in the early hours watching the dead in the poorest neighborhoods and violent of the city. A luxury that I could not resist because for some reason I needed to see the terrible thing, because I did not feel anything and sometimes the world fell out.
What do you want with your photos? Do you try to provoke the viewer, make him think or is it simply a way of expressing yourself?
Render an offering to art with my own soul, thought and life.
Besides photography you use many other media Do you consider yourself a photographer or simply a visual artist? Do you think that photography has more capacity to reach people by combining it with other types of media?
I would say that I am a promiscuous artist who for the moment is fascinated by the speed of photography, but does not have faculties of permanence in a medium. I am currently working on the production of my first novel. The combination of media is, so to speak, the destiny of my language, but I do not think that it is the correct route of the image, it is just a coincidence.
Tell us about your latest project ‘Orange Blood’ … What inspired you? What did you intend to tell in him?
It is the projection of an orange that bleeds (literal translation of ‘ Orange Sanguine ‘ in French). Two colors are the base pigments of my project: Orange, the color of youth, joy, the highest point of fire, earth, and fun. And the red, the color of violence, anger, speed, strength, blood, power, passion and love. To them I attach a third complementary color, the yellow: Madness, light and guide in the chaos.
The whole range explodes within a section of my mind that remains in the dark, and that in turn rebels an ancient symbolism encrypted. The oranges mean in many peoples of the American Indian tradition, and other creeds in southern Europe and even Asia, betrayal, violence, blood, sun or death. In the Mexican Day of the Dead offerings, the orange tone controls everything. It is the symbol of the greater star. As is the yellow color. The shadows that are projected in all my work are related to the time factor and this fruit; They mean in turn the black sun which is the beginning of dawn and which will become the latent morning star of mutating to the orange color. The morning star is also one of the names of the gods of the underworld and the god of war,
‘ Naranja de sangre ‘ is a contemporary portrait of the chaos that is expressed convulsively around change, evil and cursed, mental illness, loneliness, epigenetics, ritualism, uprooting, freedom and destiny. Trace a narrative using the force of instinct and emotional survival in the framework of a world whose laws of life are equally marked by love and violence. A world where I feel and experience it sometimes merges magically or tragically.
In this circuit my relationship with terror responds to a very primitive need, because it allows me to develop universes in which strange characters emerge who can assume a supernatural personality to face different phases of hell only through dementia.
This project is an acute, rhythmic and heartbreaking drama that seeks to devour the spectator through the traditional association of my Mexican origin: Rituals of death, sacrifice, blood and acts of witchcraft, executed in the corners theoretically furthest removed from my culture: Iceland , Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Holland, etc. The sense of uprooting and the need to connect with the depths of the origins of humanity lose their modesty and are left to be found in my eyes.
In one of the letters of Hernán Cortés (the Spanish conqueror) to the Queen of Spain, Isabel la Católica, upon his arrival in the imperial city of Tenotchitlan (now Mexico City), the original inhabitants are described as being from the underworld:
“When surprised by the whiteness and the dimension of the pyramid of the sun contrasted by a dense red color on the stairs. He is terrified to see the last winner of the ballgame leaning on the tip of the pyramid, an Aztec priest sticks an obsidian knife in his sternum, at that moment he takes his heart out while still screaming in pain, -now it has become in food for the gods – the priest devours it still beating and lets the blood of the dying paint the stairs of the pyramid red. “
As in this scene in the history of humanity, my book bleeds: The animal and the vegetable, the spiritual and the carnal acquire the same dimension. And history changes its route when European archetypes become extravagant in my iconography.
All my projects are linked and directed by a rictus related to the figure of the sorceress as a being able to emerge from the underworld, intelligent, risky, magical and all powerful. Every man or living being is inclined, disarmed or dies.
Tell us about your references …
HP Lovecraft, Alejandro Jodorowsky, FW Murnau, Roman Polanski, David Cronenberg, Luis Buñuel, William Burroughs, Emmanuel Lubezky and Goya . They are perhaps a kind of exorcism ritual. But I think that what has marked my work the most is my belief that reality is overvalued and fantasy underestimated, in my resolution the richest thing that exists in life is fabulation and the power to imagine.
For this reason, my photography is full of performative and cinematographic gestures, at the same time allusive to the pictorial archive and the documentary. Consequently, my work has become an exercise in sinister freedom carried to its strangest consequences, which has a strong relationship with chance and instinct trying to use all the narrative tools to create some emotion within the imperfection.
It is an affront to terror and dehumanization because I believe that human passion is in itself an act of defiance. I enjoy playing to fail and live, mixing different techniques (archive images, pictorial intervention, makeup, collage, analog and digital photography …). The texts that accompany my work inspired them based on crude instants of extreme detachment. Between madness and complete clarity ( flashbacks ).
Do you think your photographs are better understood in Mexico or in Europe?
I believe that my photographs have a universal content and that they can be interpreted with the same passion on the European, American continent or wherever. Although if what we are talking about are ghettos of power, for me it is easier to give movement in Europe to my work than in Mexico. For several reasons: The visual criteria are more open here than in Latin America, attached to classical documentary, the direction of two or three characters for all Latin America and the conceptualism old style. From Europe I like that there are many characters that stand out in the art world and also that there is a more conscious visual education on this side of the pond than on the other side, although Europe is like Latin America in another sense; The vision capacity of the agents of the art world is modified according to the country, it is not the same to do from Spain, than from Norway or France.
Of all the prizes won, which one has helped you the most in your career?
Among professionals of photography, the Voies Off awardof the photography encounters in Arles, France is the most elitist and it has given me a respect that my projects did not have before. But the FNAC New Talent award has enhanced my projects in a more social way, because anyone can approach the project without fear of being considered outside the art circuit, have your images in a store, give a talk and like the walker. of the day, that a photography student, a teacher or the director of a festival approaches you in the same place is a luxury that has generated fans of all media. Soon I will meet at Fnac San Agustín (Valencia) from January 29 to March 17. At the Just Mad fair in Madrid from February 18 to 26 and at Mecanic-Barcelona on February 22.
How important is the team in your work? What camera and objectives do you use?
The same importance as the brand of my pencil in the portfolio. I use what I have at the moment, now I have a Sony A7 III because it was given to me by a generous photographer in Houston, Texas. But I still photograph with the less sophisticated bugs.
Are you one of those who always carry a camera with them everywhere?
Not at all, the camera is a ballast and a detonation weapon. It’s hard to carry it, think, feel and understand …
What is your next project?
The construction of my novel ‘ Promesas crueles ‘ and the development of my series ‘ Agua de fuego-Leche de tigre ‘, a journey between the past and the modernity of the right to self-extermination, where I relate my father’s suicide and my relationship with the dark destiny of men in various dimensions of my life.
Thank you very much Liza, congratulations for the award , good luck with your projects, and we hope that even though you experiment with other arts, never leave aside the world of photography.
Photographs by Liza Ambrossio reproduced with the author’s permission for this article
Original article : https://www.xatakafoto.com/entrevistas/soy-artista-promiscua-fascinada-momento-rapidez-fotografia-liza-ambrossio-premio-nuevo-talento-fnac-2018
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