Awesome Interview for Tsquirt.com and Queef Magazine.
Needless to say I like doing what I do, so when I am interviewed for doing what I do, I am ecstatic. In this Interview I was asked new things, which made it even more compelling and exciting to write. Thank you Enrico, thank you Tsquirt.com and QueefMagazine.
Here goes the interview in English. It was published originally in Italian.
Q Hi Sandra, thanks for your precious time. We’ve been following you for a long time and we are happy to make this interview. When did you shoot your first photo? How did you feel about it?
My father gave me my first camera when I was 7 and I shot my first film about animals. I recall half of it was blurred and the other half ill framed. I made an effort to get better.
Maybe my first intentional images was this short psycosis story. I began doing photographic stories when I was around 11. I also remember my first sensual self portrait. I was 12, I hid it in my diary and for years I felt so ashamed. For years I wanted to be a writer, wrote several books, I did acting, make up, dance. But at some point When I was 19 I went to egypt, I bought 19 films and spent most of my savings in developing them, just to discovered they had been ruined in the Bagage Xrays airport machines. I did a project on mental helth patients and half way I had to give the prints and negatives for destruction, my camera broke, I was studying medecine and well my creativity was cornered.
Every so often I would take a self portrait and I remember when I took “self portrait 01” something changed. I guess I would locate there in that picture, the begining of my artistic career. I was 23. I asked my dad for my first digital reflex, which he bought me, and started shooting again, I created a flickr account and got up to 2m visits or some super big number. It was exciting and fun.
Q You chose to leave your job as a psychologist, to dedicate yourself to photography. We guess a lot of people asked you why. And we ask it too. What did make you want to change?
My studies went like this. I dropped medicine on 3rd year to study social work and at the same time I studied a diploma in gender relationships and another diploma in sexual therapy. It is all interconnected really. I did my degree’s final project in street prostitution, for the diploma I wrote en essay called “notes on gender, sex, and corporality” (which is my body of work photographically speaking) and studying sexual therapy opened my mind and challenged my fears.
In 2003 my boyfriend and I moved to England. I enroled in a humanistic counselling training and then in a 3years Masters in integrative counselling. At the same time I studied psychology. I guess i wanted to be the next Freud. For my degree’s final project I proposed to study porn in terms of evolution psychology. They would not let me, and had to do something boring instead. My Msc final dissertation was on dreams.
As I finished the dissertation after 4 years in England working as a therapist and social worker, I was feeling heavy and sad. I had seen and worked people who had been damaged in ways it broke me too. All I wanted was to take pictures, let emotions go, have fun and cope.
And there you have the breeding ground that led to the rest. We moved back to Spain, i dropped everything and enrolled in a masters in photography. I never thought i would leave psychology forever, it just happens that photography took everything over.
Q. You have a degree in sexual therapy, and sexuality plays a big role in your photographies. How do you transfer or apply your studies into your work?
Being a psychotherapist means being used to self analysis, regardless of the area of your work. I look at myself and transform my thoughts and feelings into images.
My work addresses what interests me, not only sex, but gender, corporality, emotions and fantasies. I guess earlier on in my life I approached this interests academically and through therapy, now I address them creatively, but the interest were always there.
In humanistic counselling the therapist is quite present, he or she will acknowledge its own feelings and use them within the therapeutic relationship. I do the same in photography, I use myself to raise a question or offer a thought and from there it can reach and connect with the observer.
Q. How do you relate to sex and how do you think people relate to it in our era?
Self portrait with husband (2018) went with this caption and I believe it summarises perfectly in text and image my relationship to sex.
I am a woman. I love men. And women. And myself. Most of the time.
My work is an ode to women that love men and women and themselves, most of the time.
To women that love themselves so much that they can freely say they love men. Or whomever. Even themselves.
I don’t create images to arouse men. I am aroused by men. And women. And my own imagination. I create images as an ode.
As an ode to living one’s sexuality, embodiement and gender spectrum freely, in it’s own way and speed.
To sexual desire expressed blatantly and clearly and equally received. Without shame or disguises.
To bodies. With its perfect flaws and shades of grey. Full bodies with hair skin smell and fluids. Bodies that age, that take us to heaven and hell, that are worth dying for.
To sex. With its mismatches and implosions.
To gender with it’s fluidity and redefined lines.
To living and feeling mostly.
Answering your question, I relate to sex like I relate to life, I want to experience it to the best of my capabilities, nurture it and help it grow, challenge my limits and explore where it can take me. The more intense, changing and passionate, the better.
In terms of visual media I feel our era has enabled sexuality to grow and expand enormously but without critical thinking. I love the freedom and expansion, I want to add my critical point of view with my work.
Also I feel both women and men can be portrayed differently.
I want to allow men to be targets of sexual desire too, I love men and I find they are desirable. Beautiful.
In exchange women have broadly been considered as sexually desirable, but not in a very empathic way. I love women, just as they are, and this is why I never edit my own body for my images, i am there with my scars and stretch marks, with my period or my flaws.
So basically one of my pursues in life, sex and my photographic work is to embrace our animality and humanity. Our hair, our smells, our fluids, our ageing, our imperfect beauty.
Q. Eroticism and pornography. Sometimes these words walk on parallel lines, but often intersect themselves. What do they mean to you?
Indeed they do cross. The line that differentiates them for me is fine but clear, but then again what may be porn for others, might be super soft eroticism for me.
I guess erotics are more about sensual appeal, and pornography about sex, like the foreplay and sex.
Q We fell in love with your work because of your irony. Some of your picture and some of your projects are quite funny. In “The Ideal Man” you mocked love let downs, in “The spleepy People” you focused on how life sometimes runs in front of us while we are asleep. Have you alway had the gift to analyse life with humour?
Haha, no I don’t always have the gift of being funny and I dont always take life gracefully or with humour. In fact I can be quite dramatic and emotional but I love humour and I am bored to death infronf of the lack of it. I guess one can address topics from a very dramatic point of view but to me that is neither interesting nor necessary. Humour releases tension, you can raise the very same topics without having to go all tragic about them. So I try. I always try to find the ironic twist for my images. Bittersweet is closer to reality than drama. Thruth is I have found myself laughing and crying at the same time in the most tragic moments of my life.
Q We stepped in your fantastic world thanks to “Estranged Sex” project, a work still in progress where your shots depict an odd and at the same time natural sexuality, estranged from its context. How did this project take life and what does it mean to you?
It almost began on its own. I was studying a masters in photography and one lecturer gave us the assignment to do a sexual self portrait for the following day. I was thrilled, it was as if the subject was made just for me. I did 4 images and one of them was Estranged Sex I.
In this first image I wanted to address that women can and consume porn, that it may well be hardcore or not, but I did not want to portray just someone watching porn for that it would have lacked humour and interest.
I wanted it to be weird and awkward, so that the image would be nearly perfectly erotic and yet something would be off with it. I thought that through the sensation of estrangement i would be able to raise questions, rather than give answers, propose a topic and allow the observer to judge and evaluate. So i moved away from “women watch porn” to “ WTF this girl is watching hardcore porn whilst shaving her legs, that is weird, is this how they do it? Do they watch porn, what sort of porn?…”
I realised I had so many things to say so I continued working on estranged sex, and how something that used to be close to us (sex, gender, our own bodies) had become estranged (alienated, distant, unknown). I began working on rarefying what had been naturalised and normalizing what society turned into rare. Each image tells a story, has a long discourse underneath, but ultimately the image only raises questions for that I dont have the answers for everyone, just my own.
Estranged Sex for me is my most elaborated piece of work, technically and in terms of discourse the most sophisticated. I adore it and have so much fun with it, but productions have grown in complexity so much I can only do new images every so often, and this is why I have other projects, more emotional and raw, where I can play faster and portray more simple ideas.
Q. We discovered “The Crisis” on your website. No description, not even the reference year. Just pictures of you, with an high erotic power. Tell us something more about this work.
It was in 2008 when I found photography (and the aerial sports I practice) that I experienced feeling calm maybe for the first time ever. I guess I need my husband and family (love), but also photography( emotional outlet) and sports (physical outlet) to feel happy and contained.
Crisis is a very recent body of work I started this summer. Jean Luc Godard “what can be shown mustn’t be said”. But I love words. So I will try to explain.
My father died in November 2016. I think i was already in a but of a crisis before his death. I have two kids, 6 and 4, and somewhat I was feeling that I could not explain where the last 6 years of my life were gone. I adore my children, obviously, and my husband, but whilst we were parents, we had been gone as individuals and as a couple for 6 years and that was too long.
With motherhood creative photography and sports were gone and my father’s dead carved a black hole in my chest.
Whilst i refused to learn anything from his death, I did realise one thing, that was what you don’t do know, might never get done. It might sound obvious, but to hold this as a truth changes it all. I could not longer wait to do the things I wanted, to be me, to be us, to feel. And i wanted to feel passion, butterflies, rage, desire, whatever but with intensity, to be devoured by life. I felt despair, desire, arousal and sadness altogether, I was in crisis.
This lead to 3 projects. “L’ isola che non ce” inspired in an Eduardo Bennato song my father used to play from me. I suppose this is where my dad went and I will never stop trying to find that island. “The butterfly cage” that represent that sensation of having been caged and wanting to break free, explode, fly, reach, expand, be. And “crisis” which occurs indoors, more introspective and addresses the same as the others but with more references to sex.
Q Thanks to the new technologies there are thousands, even millions of new photographers. Would you suggest us three of your favourite names? And three that inspired your work?
Eugenio recuenco. Spanish photographer. He is brilliant, delicate and the depth of his world and work are forever stunning.
Steven Klein. He is an American fashion photographer that changes every time. He never does something equal to what he has done before, and I am in awe with him.
Flora Borsi. Her skills in terms of photographic edition are beyond real, but then again so is her imagination so I am mesmerized by her work too.
Q A last question before saying goodbye: a new year has just begun. What are your wishes for 2018? Are you working on new projects?
I am thrilled that this critical period led to such a rich and creative moment in my life, so I am enjoying the ride. I have countless ideas, paper books filled with drawings ( I am awful at drawing but I understand my onw drawings so its all good). Estranged Sex continues, I have a short video art piece I would love to finally shoot (its been 6 years since I visualized it and its about time to film it) and several images to shoot. I have found a better balance between trying to be the mother I want to be, sensual life with husband and finding the time and space to create my work. So all I wish for 2018 is to continue doing so.