Interview by Claudia Bigongiari
All Images © Claudia Corrent
Claudia Corrent (born in 1980) is a freelance photographer from Bolzano who has a visionary and intimate relation with photography. She graduated in Philosophy at the University of Trento, where she started her aesthetic research on the landscape and the relationship between people and the environment. To her places are more mindscapes then earthscapes, they are affected by human passage, she uses photography (collecting old photos and postcards) to testify it.
Claudia’s other sources of influence come from visual urban photography and photo journalism. She has been published in Repubblica, Corriere della Sera, Der Spiegel, Die Zeit, Gioia, Courrier International and exhibited in San Francesco, Russia, Lithuanian, Milan, Rome, Lucca, Bolzano, Venice, Genoa, Monopoli, and Lecce.
Hi Claudia, a warm welcome from Pellicola! Tell us something about yourself and your approach to the visual art? Did you always want to do it professionally?
Hello! I live in northern Italy in the middle of the mountains and I dream of the sea. My love for images was born slowly, I started for fun, because I liked it and it responded to my need. Images make me feel good, they calm me, that is something I have understood over time. I started by loving the great masters very much, Cartier Bresson, Capa, Arbus and getting lost in their images. Then a university course made me fall in love even more with photographic language and all its complexity. From that moment I began to photograph and think about the image in a more cultured and broad way.
Landscape is a personal concept in your projects, your own vision and relation with the territory, by birth or by affection. What makes the landscape a personal space? What do you always look for? For example, the sea is the element most often repeated.
We live in the landscape, we are immersed in it. But we live the landscape in a predictable way. I take it from far away: there has been a disaffection to places in Italy, and elsewhere as well, due to the industrialization and transformation during the economic boom. The urban landscape has changed and the crisis of spaces has led to a different idea of living. As Heidegger wrote: “Only if we have the ability to live we can build”. My works on places come from these reflections, they are landscapes with some trace of human, urban icons and man-made landscapes. I’m interested in understanding how people experience their places. Calvino said: “You don’t enjoy the seven or the seventy-seven wonders of a city, but the answer it gives to your question”. The sea is the most present element because it represents my answer. I realised that I feel good, really good alone in the middle of the sea, between the mainland and the islands, in a suspended dimension. This is why Venice for me is the paradigm of the ideal city, in the middle of the water, suspended, metaphysical in its silences.
Regarding Insulae, the series of pictures around Venice islands, these isolated views tell about your encounter with the space and in general, about the identity of the territory, your identity. When your affection for Venice started? And which signs, urban elements drove you into this flânerie?
In part I already answered before: my affection for Venice started slowly, as happens for some places that I consider elective. Lingiardi, a Roman psychiatrist, in a beautiful book called Mindscapes talks about landscapes of the mind: places we look for in the world to give shape and image to something that is already in us. In this case, Venice gives shape to something that represents me, it is the projection of something internal.
The landscape is right there between the visible and the invisible, on the border between subjectivity and objectivity.
In a parable by Borges, as Magris remember, there is the story of a painter of landscapes, mountains, valleys, islands. He realised at the end of his life, that he was painting his face. Here the landscape and identity meet, there is not only a relationship, but a total reflection.
The series, in its solitude and emptiness, reminds photographs by Ghirri and Guidi, the best landscape’s masters, like in the San Erasmo island with the two columns reminds Ghirri’s Formingine 1985. Are they source of influence for you? Who else, photographers or artists in general?
Ohh yeah. Ghirri, undisputed master, has allowed us to see and investigate what was considered banal, ordinary, apparently not interesting. He created a vision that massively influenced the collective imagination. He looked down and made extraordinary something that was already there, it had just to be seen with different eyes. I wrote my master’s thesis on landscape, quoting Ghirri, Basilico, Jodice, Guidi and American landscape photographers.
Another artist that I really like is Sophie Calle and the 2011 project related to the sea Voir la mer where she brought people to the sea who have never seen it before. Calle blindfolded them and then photographed their faces. Very beautiful. I’m interested in artists, philosophers who think about the act of looking and who remind us that images are iconic acts that have an incredible vitality and power of action. This fascinates me a lot.
Neanche il futuro purtroppo è più quello di una volta uses the scanner to create an effect similar to the time flux. Time, always a big question in photography, moves your creativity, do you fear the time or it’s more a fascination?
Both. Time has to be feared because it changes things and transforms them, but also it offers the possibility of seeing its effects.
Photography captures the paradox: it tries to fix the irreparable with the illusion of stopping the moment. It captures something eternal, suspended, knowing that it is only an illusion.
How this project started? From an error or something else? And about the selection of the images: why did you select them from an old archive? Have you ever thought to create the same effect with contemporary images?
The project was born during the lockdown in Italy. I was playing with the images and I followed the light of the scan, the truth is that it came casually. Later I discovered that Munari in the 60s made similar experimentations with photocopiers. His images are part of a private archive I had as a gift and that I used before for other works. Family photographs fascinate me a lot, they are beautiful and the fact that I don’t take them allows me to detach myself.
Regarding contemporary images I’m trying to make a project, but everything is still in progress …
About the sea is a series that plays with the idea of time and adds the possibility of creating multiple realities, a different story, making personal landscapes and mindscapes. Everything sounds connected with your landscape photography, mapping your own space. Can you agree with this correspondence?
Yes, it is just that: the landscape is a mental scape, which cannot be solved only with the images of nature. From there you can create different stories, putting together very distant things, new relationships, invented ones. I like to mix things up, upset them, change, transform. Subverting Barthes warning who said that photography’s noema resides only in what “it was”: what I see with my eyes is necessarily already happened. My collage images aren’t like that, I reinvent things and transform them.
‘Images are only a part of reality, we need to doubt photography in the representation of reality’, you said. But at the same time your use of archive images sends back photography to its most documentary aspect, to the idea that something is real when documented by an old picture/postcard. Where do you feel more close? To the doubt or to the documentation?
What a super question! In my opinion photographs should always be questioned, despite their simplicity, despite their absolute obvious appearance. We always have to ask ourselves what they want to say, what they want to communicate, or more simply to understand why we like them. It is a work not only related to the visual, but it should be extended to all artistic forms. To better understand the complexity, the world we live in. Bredekamp used to say that photographs should be looked as we look at a “swarm of flies approaching”. Something that doesn’t reassure us but leaves us dismayed, that bothers us, that somehow hurts us. This is the strength of images, which must hit us with force.
Finally, Claudia, have you something in mind for the next projects that you would like to share with Pellicola?
I have many ideas, some new works on the archive, but everything is still in process, I still sail on the high sea, my beloved place, the sea… 🙂
Thank you Claudia for having find the time to answer our questions, I hope you enjoyed them!