Q&A with Alejandra Laviada, Hyeres 2009
What have you been doing with yourself since you featured in last years’ graduate directory?
Working, taking pictures, and getting married! It gets a little crazy at times, but I like to keep busy. I recently started on a new set of images that is at a very early stage, but I’m enjoying the freedom to experiment on different ways of expressing my interests and ideas.
There’s a similarity between you work and that of Swiss artistic couple Fischli Weiss – to what extent have they been an influence?
I like their work a lot, but I don’t feel particularly influenced by them. Other artists such as Robert Smithson, Thomas Demand and Gabriel Orozco have been more influential in the development of my ideas..
You take banal objects and make them seem remarkable, how do you find inspiration in such triviality?
I like the idea of transforming the mundane into something else entirely; of being able to present these discarded objects differently, and hopefully change the viewers experience when they encounter these objects again.
To what extent do you plan the photographs that you produce?
It’s a more intuitive process for me. I work only with the objects I find in each site, so it’s impossible to plan what I’ll find there.
Whereabouts do you shoot the majority of your work? How do you find your locations?
I shoot mostly in the Historic Center in Mexico City. It’s where the city was founded, so there are all these layers of history built on top of each other… pyramids, colonial architecture, art deco, art nouveau - It’s quite an eclectic mix, but it reflects my interest in the transitional nature of the city, and the temporality of the sites I photograph.
You seem to enjoy exploring the outdated and twee – is your work nostalgic or purely formal?
It’s a little bit of both. There is certain nostalgia in change, and the underlying theme of my work deals with the idea of temporality and change. That’s why I’m interested in photographing sites that are in transition, and the discarded objects that are left behind.
People don’t play a role on your photographs, although their environments do, what does this bring to your work?
My photographic process is a sort of urban archeology, where the objects I find reveal aspects of the function of each site and the people who inhabited it. In this respect, my images are anthropomorphic.
Where do you call home?
Who, what or where has been your biggest inspiration throughout your career?
Mexico City is definitely a big source of inspiration. Robert Smithson’s writings, Enrique Metinides’ photographs, the work of architect Ricardo Legorreta, Dashwood Books - my favorite bookstore in NY, Boris Mihailov’s photobooks - and more recently, the Hyeres festival have all inspired and motivated me.
Where do you go to take time out?
To the countryside. When you live in a chaotic city like Mexico, you often need time out to refuel.
If you were not photographing objects, what would you photograph?
That’s a good question - maybe architecture.
Click here to see more from Hyeres 2009