May 3, 2020
Photography by Alicia Haber
Interview by Melanie Meggs
Alicia Haber is an esteemed Art Historian and Curator of Contemporary Art who has led a fascinating life of international travel and exploration. Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, she has since made a name for herself in the art world, receiving grants and invitations from universities and cultural institutions across Western Europe and the United States. Now retired, Alicia has taken up photography as her passion and is using her lens to challenge the notions of ‘realism’ and ‘truth’. Through her creative works, she encourages viewers to look beyond the surface and ponder the ambiguities of what they observe. Decades of exploration, study, and observation have made Alicia a masterful storyteller; her photographs are proof of her extraordinary eye for detail and her ability to capture profoundly captivating moments. Join us as we learn more about Alicia Haber, her eye-opening works, and her journey to becoming a renowned visual artist.
“Since I was very young, but I only took photographs as a tourist, for my Art History classes, or of my children. I have been a photographer for the last two years and a half once I started studying photography. Then, after I knew how to deal with the technical aspects of my Sony Alpha 6300 and with editing with Photoshop, I started looking for my own subject matters and my own personal visual language.”
IN CONVERSATION WITH ALICIA HABER
THE PICTORIAL LIST: Hello Alicia...welcome to The List! Tell us, where do you find your inspiration?
ALICIA HABER: I find inspiration in the city, basically in Montevideo and also in cities in Brazil, where I travel quite often. I am a very urban person. I am not attracted to landscapes, flowers, and nature in general. People in their daily life interest me a lot. I am not in search of a realistic depiction of the world. My photos, in general, concentrate on reflections, blurs produced by camera movement or slow speed and movement of the subject, silhouettes. In general, though, I do not want total abstraction. I let the image or images to be seen, to stay in the picture, even if they are blurred or duplicated.
TPL: Where is your favourite place to photograph?
AH: In the city, in the streets, in places related to urban life.
TPL: Do you feel that you have grown in your photography since you started almost 3 years ago? Has your style of photographing changed?
AH: Yes, it has changed. My photography is a work in progress. I keep studying, now by myself, learning about new ways of expressions, trying to find new challenges and finding new approaches.
TPL: Tell us more about your involvement in the artistic world before photography?
AH: I am an Art Historian and curator. I have taught Art History, wrote books on famous Uruguayan artists, curated hundreds of exhibitions of Uruguayan artists both in Uruguay and abroad (Brazil, Argentina, New York, Los Angeles, Germany, Venice Biennale, Sao Paulo Biennale, among others), have presented papers on Uruguayan art in several conferences of Art Historians and Art Critics in Great Britain, the United States, Germany, Sweden, and many other countries.
I am not in search of a realistic depiction of the world.
TPL: What characteristics do you think you need to become a better photographer? What’s your tips or advice for someone in your genre?
AH: Be audacious. Be curious. Open your mind. Reject the obvious. Look at Contemporary art. Visit museum or virtual museum. Watch very good films with very good photography. Learn from the photography masters. Keep visiting sites where you can look for different types of photography, particularly the ones that break stereotypes. Establish dialogues with other colleagues.
TPL: Do you think equipment is important in achieving your vision in your photography? What would you say to someone just starting out?
AH: Good equipment is necessary. It does not have to be an expensive one. You can always upgrade it
later. It is important to know how to use it. Then, the real important thing is to look at the world around you and find ways to depict it in your own way. Ex nihilo nihil. So, look at what other photographers, particularly masters, have done.
And learn from them. Do not copy them. Be inspired by them. Look for your own style. Look for your own voice.
TPL: Do you have any favourite artists or photographers you would like to share with us?
AH: Saul Leiter, William Klein. And many, many others.
TPL: Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
AH: During the lockdown and quarantine period we are now living, I have to stay at home, and keep photographing. It is a new challenge. I have to solve the problems alone. I photograph outside my window at night, in the evening, and inside my apartment.
My intention is always to problematize the regard and challenge common concepts of what is real. So, also at home I work with camera movement or the movement of the model. Fortunately, a Brazilian friend is staying with me during the quarantine, and she is so nice that she lets me photograph her. I am trying to convey different moods produced by confinement, also everyday life during Covid-19, inside and outside the apartment and what is going on with the neighbours.
TPL: "If I wasn't photographing what would I be doing?...
AH: Now my great passion is photography, so I cannot imagine anything else."