Enrica De Nicola is an Italian-based contemporary photographer. She expresses her inner self mixing different photographic fields and mediums, from portraits to storytelling. Through her genuine and innocent approach, the artist reveals both herself and her surrounding world.
Which is your first photographic memory?
When I was a child my mother used to take a lot of pictures of mountain landscapes. I have never given so much importance to them, probably because I’ve always associated them to the boring excursions that I was forced to do at that time. Lately, I have started to recover her pictures and to appreciate them, together with the interest for landscapes.
I think that the main aim of a photographer is to tell a story about something ordinary according to his/her personal language, and to make an intimate relation with places and people throughout it.
Could you describe yourself with a book, a song and a movie?
A book: “A lover’s discourse: fragments”, by Roland Barthes; a song: “Het volk”, by Pan American; a movie: “Persona”, by Ingmar Bergman.
A famous person you would like to portray.
Your visual approach involves different photographic fields: portrait, fashion, architecture and storytelling. Which of them allows you to express your feelings better?
At the beginning it was portraiture that allows me to fully express myself. Currently, I like to mix the different languages.
Black and white close-ups of children populate your series “Family Dolls”. Young boys and girls are depicted in all their innocence and simplicity. Their eyes speak gently for them, in so revealing their soul. Who are them? Also, we see hands embracing their soft faces. Who do they belong to?
They belong to their parents. The project is built around the conversation between gestures and gazes. I took the idea from some memories of my past: when someone asked me to pose for the camera, I used to react with a kind of intolerance. I felt forced. So, I started to look for children that could re-experience this same feeling. However, this first initial inspiration developed and the series is now focused more on the limits between affection and oppression.
While observing your young portraits, it is easy to be touched by the genuine gaze of your children. It seems that a light veil of sadness covers their visages. Children seem to wonder about something, to quest for something. Did you reach this effect on purpose?
Yes, I tried to. However, children’s attitude played a crucial role in the final result. I chose them carefully according to their behaviour, trying to predict their reactions to the situation, that was a little bit tense. I think they sensed me like an intruder, also because I was really close to them while shooting with a macro ring mounted on the Hasselblad. Moreover, they were very curious about the camera: they seemed to approach directly to it or try to studying something in the lens.
When I was a child my mother used to take a lot of pictures of mountain landscapes. I have never given so much importance to them. Lately, I have started to recover her pictures and to appreciate them.
How do you feel while working with such young people?
I feel comfortable. Everything is very spontaneous with children, although I had to interfere with them to give indications.
Dark, gloomy tones dominate the shots of “Still There”. Here, you become a documentary photographer. You investigate mysterious rural places by portraying simple details of the everyday life of their inhabitants. No human figures appear except for a couple of dull, tired eyes. Everything there seems to be permeated by a strange halo. Why did you choose these places? Which is your relationship with them?
It’s an area very close to my city and overlooked from the body of Garigliano nuclear plant. I’ve always felt attracted by that place, not only for the episodes that involved the river that crosses it, but especially for this strange cohabitation of nature and technology. The nuclear plant has the appearance of a bizarre alien object whose presence covers everything around that.
In “Still There” you observe the surrounding reality through inquiring eyes. No judgments, just observation. On this regard, it comes to our mind Elliot Erwitt’s quote: “Photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place”. Do you recognize yourself in it? How does it fit to your art?
Yes, I do recognize myself in it. Indeed, I think that the main aim of a photographer is to tell a story about something ordinary according to his/her personal language, and to make an intimate relation with places and people throughout it. In “Still There” I’ve tried to give a very personal view of the area. However, at first sight the landscape is completely different from the pictures I’ve taken: it is a sunny Mediterranean area. I’ve inverted this appearance shooting only after the sunset and taking advantage of the twilight mood in order to highlight the sensation of a fairy place, because that was the way I perceived the area.
You collect moments of your life in a visual diary. You observe the world through car and plane windows marked by rainy drops. As a consequence, the world around you shapes into blurry, evanescent scenes and it moulds into splashes of colours. What does this project tell about you and the way you perceive reality?
It’s a kind of exercise. A car or plane window acts as just another lens added to the camera lens, surrounding the sensation of different levels of reality. In my “Diary” I observe the multiple way of being of landscapes, and I play with that.
In shooting urban architectures, your compositions are clean rigorous tidy sets. Your bi-dimensional views mainly shape through warm colours and bright light. Space seems to be filled but not lived and it transforms into a set design, where no humans are present. External walls of tall buildings, empty benches and endless rows of windows feel up the scene, leaving just a small space to the sky to emerge. What does “I miss you” mean to you?
The title refers to the absence of any human warmth. I’ve tried to suggest that feeling by playing with the rigor of the space, perfectly organized but not ready to be lived yet, exactly like the set of a cold reality.
Your next project.
I’m not sure about it yet, but I think it will involve a lot of still-lifes.
Your main flaw and quality.
I’m very moody. I’m very methodic.
Make a wish.
To travel more.
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