Interview with featured photographer Andrea Alkalay
F-Stop Magazine: How did you first become involved in photography and what led to you working in this medium as an artist?
Andrea Alkalay: I engaged with photography through my profession as an industrial designer, where product photography was needed . Later, when I decided to dedicate myself entirely to art, photography became my primary tool of expression.
F-Stop: The current issue of F-Stop Magazine includes images from your work “The Rock Cycle,” can you tell us about this project? I am particularly curious about how it is structured into 3 stages – did you start out with that in mind or did it develop over time that way?
AA: The project was inspired during the artistic residency in Saudi Arabia, located in an ancient Unesco district in Jeddah, currently undergoing restoration. I was deeply moved by the construction materials, geography, and history of the city, the main gateway to Mecca, the holiest Islamic city. Additionally, it serves as an ancient port on the Red Sea, part of the Silk Road and spice route. The vibrant energy strongly inspired me to work with photo collages taken while entering the dilapidated houses.
Further delving into research using archival materials, I gathered photographs and documentation to continue the work upon returning to Argentina. Simultaneously, I became interested in addressing themes related to Saudi women, their transformation, and evolution, paralleling the restoration of these houses. I discovered certain analogies between women, the coral rocks, and the history of the place. These three axes form the project, each approached in a unique manner.
F-Stop: How does this project relate or differ from your other work?
AA: Perhaps, the landscape is a common notion that I preserve in all my projects.
But his project differs from others in various aspects. I allowed myself to be guided by the context of the place, without anything predetermined, and the result was the development of pieces that vary from each other, using found materials. My intention was to tap into the expressive potential of material language, merging memory, environment, and perception to evoke its ancestral connections. To feel the space, expanding the photographic image.
F-Stop: What is your process for making these images or your creative process more generally?
AA: Generally, I immerse myself in the themes that I am interested in exploring. Ideas arise primarily through experimentation. I like to try things out and see what happens with them. Writing also helps me clarify, and I find it very important to create interesting contexts for myself from which I can draw nourishment. Traveling is one of them.
I work with a photographic base for a collage composition because it gives me the possibility to work on levels of information, which is something I seek as a result. But I don’t limit myself to that; I somehow take space into account and use techniques that I find appropriate for the idea at hand.
F-Stop: What do you hope people experience or feel or understand when they look at your photographs?
AA: My work involves both aesthetic and conceptual exploration. These are generally questions I pose to myself, and in doing so, I invite people to reflect on how we live in this world, the appreciation of value, and environmental issues. I like to think that those who appreciate it can feel a certain emotion or empathy with these reflections.
F-Stop: Are you working on any other projects currently?
AA: Currently engaged in a new project during another residency, I’m delving into the constructive aspects associated with major metropolises. Although it’s still in the definition phase and will likely take about a year to complete, I am intrigued by environmental considerations, the built environment, the legacy of the land, and its future projection.
I could say that these same themes stem from The Rock Cycle project, but it won’t be a continuation of it; instead, it will take on a different framework.
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