Woman Crush Wednesday: Fiona Struengmann
Interview by Federica Belli.
Most of your previous photography projects do not involve painting or working on already existing pictures. How did you get to the point of putting together these different medias in "Just like you"? Is it something you had already been thinking about or did the idea spark when you saw the collection of old photos?
In the first series I worked on many years ago, I actually combined photography with drawings. I think I needed to step away from it a little bit in order to find a new way to combine them again.
Using already existing images though is new to me. I have been collecting vintage pictures since I was 15 years old, so there was already some attraction towards them. The idea of combining them though, using them to tell another story, really only sparked when I saw the collection.
How do you feel this project relates to the limited capability of our brain to remember the past? Do you feel like this theme is relevant to your work?
Everyone experiences the world with their own eyes, given their personal cultural backgrounds and experiences. Most photographs taken though end up having the same themes. Especially in the early days of photography, when film was very limited, you carefully had to choose your subject. Weddings, Birthdays, Holidays and memorable days like the first day of school. When you look at the photo album, most of your memories are built around the photograph, which becomes your memory. Within the series Just like you, but different the images have these same themes, but I tried to connect them with my own experience by taking away parts of the picture and putting them into a different context. With that idea, I was able to tell my own stories through these images and connect them with memories.
Can you describe the process of highlighting and hiding specific parts of the pictures?
I did a lot of experiments. At the end, I found two chemical solutions that would help me to translate the feeling I wanted to transmit. One solution is used to protect the parts I wanted to keep from the original picture and the other one is a bleaching technique to hide other parts of the photograph. Afterwards it goes through the normal darkroom process. Fixation and Washing.
Describe your creative process in one word.
If you could teach a one-hour class on anything, what would it be?
I would like to give a workshop on “seeing”, how we perceive our environment and our relationship to the natural world.
What was the last book you read or film you saw that inspired you?
I was just part of an Artist Residency program in Beirut, so I read books from a lot of Lebanese authors, which were all very inspiring for my work. The poems of Etel Adnan, Georgia Makhlouf and The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.
What is the most played song in your music library?
How do you take your coffee?
A sip of milk is always a good idea.
To see more of Fiona’s work, visit her website here.