Artist Interview: Anna Balecho
26 year old photographer/artist, Anna Balecho was born in Lisbon, Portugal, where she studied for a BA in Photography and Visual Culture at the IADE. Now studying for an MA, Anna’s work, usually in 35mm film—she has a proclivity towards Reflex cameras—explores a very personal interior world. Life, love, dreams and friendships all merge and blend together, resulting in images that are somehow laconic, wistful and capture the quintessence of youth, and a sense of solitary beauty. Solitary figures, often half-concealed from the viewer, speak of the photographer’s personal every day, encounters, memories and moments which are distilled and isolated.
When did you first pick up a camera? Was it your first form of art making?
I’ve got my first camera when I was 15, a semi professional Canon, a gift from my parents. First form of art? I don’t know if it was… my parents always talk about this “habit” I had, to draw on walls, I’m made stuff that my Barbies need, like houses, sofas, dressers, when I was 5/6 years old, and have continuing drawing things on the walls since i was a teenager, I would guess that was my first form of art making.
What kind of camera do you shoot regularly?
I still use my first Canon, and a Pentax Asahi, a compact Yashica, I have a pretty good collection, but these are the ones I prefer to use!
Do you shoot film or digital? What are the differences, advantages and disadvantages for you between the two?
I shoot film, as much as i can. The only disadvantage I can find in film is to be a lot more expensive than digital. I don’t like to use digital it just don’t fit or match with my project, it’s so flat and empty. It’s not about the blurry or that old age look that people search for, and that you can easily find by editing, it’s as simple as being a different kind of photography.
What are the differences between color and black and white for you?
Don’t see none, at university I had a really good teacher, and a major photographer, José Luís Neto, who often tell me I treat and think color photos as the other persons treat black and white and that’s why my photos look like they do. Maybe he has a point.
Narrative plays a subtle role in each of your collection of photographs, speak a little on this.
Sometimes I think a bit more about what I intend to do, other I don’t, that the major difference between the projects and the “visual journey” at the site. The narrative comes simple from what I want from the project, narrative it’s just as important for me as the photos itself, for instance “agora tudo cheira a ti.” (from now everything smell like you) was taken while I was in a road trip with my boyfriend trough Alentejo, Portugal, we’re just driving and camping, and some weeks later, while putting the project together was important for me to feel all my emotion at the time, and I can only hope that the people who see it can relate to that.
What is the relationship of your models to you? Does intimacy come up in the work you make? How do you work around the different bodies you are photographing? How does the figure impact your work?
Yes to all,
I have this strange thing with people and intimacy,
I’m interesting in people, in experiences they’ve, not. The body itself is something that absolutely push me, the skin, not that much the intimacy parts of a body. The interesting part is to try to show intimacy without being obvious about that, even while photographing someone naked, don’t be obvious, cause that’s just boring. It’s simple the way i seen it, ’cause while I’m photographing I don’t even think about it, I don’t ask for poses or stuff, i’m just there.
says more to me photographing someone brushing his/her teeth, then peeing for example, that’s the intimacy I try to work on.
Where do your titles come from? How do you work through your images to decide on the sequencing?
It’s a bit like the narrative i apply to my projects, taking the “agora tudo cheira a ti.” example, the title comes from a line we saw wrote at some bathroom, ahah, taking out of context, it’s a really beautiful thing to feel for someone, it’s like at that moment all your world it’s that smell, or that someone.
Do you have reoccurring themes in your work? How do you deal with them? How do you reconcile them?
It comes natural for me, I just have to relate to what I’m photographing.
How much do you shoot when you shoot? How often do you take photographs?
I don’t really shoot that much, I can be obsessive about my work, but not with photographing, thankfully, otherwise I’ll be bankrupting (even more). ahah
Which artists and/or photographers do you look at? Do you find inspiration from them? Do you look at blogs? If so, which?
I’m really into web and research others work, I’ve absolutely addicted in magazines, like a compulsive thing. I admire photographers like Nan Goldin, Diane Arbus, and there’s some new names that I really follow up, but my inspiration comes from my personal life, the experiences I live and things I feel ( even in more commercial works) and that’s the only way I know how to work.
“Dead Rockers” has a very different feel from your other stories. What does it mean for you? Why did you use a mask?
Dead Rockers comes from a study I’ve made from bodies and their relationship with the different spaces. Besides Lili, the model was beautiful, the face was irrelevant, that’s why the mask or the backs in some of them, The images projected are taking from the net, aren’t mine, and was just a funny afternoon at the studio as I usually prefer to photograph in more natural environments.
Is it difficult for you to identify with being a photographer in today’s society with images so widely mass produced? Where do you see the world of photography going in the next few years? Where do you see yourself?
I try to focus in what I want to do, what I want to work with, and not in what others do… ’cause you can be overwhelming with all the images you see this days. While I’m happy photographing and with my projects that’s what I’ll be doing.