IN CONVERSATION WITH ALICIA HABER
Alicia Haber was born in Montevideo, Uruguay where she still resides today. Alicia has traveled extensively and has even lived abroad mainly in Western Europe and the United States with grants, travel grants, and invitations form universities and cultural institutions due to her work as an Art Historian, researcher and curator. Now a retired Art Historian and Curator of Contemporary Art (not photography), Alicia is currently dedicating herself to photography more as a passion/hobby.
Alicia likes to work with camera movement or focus on the movement caused by her subjects. Through her photography, Alicia's intentions are to question what is the 'realism' and what is the 'truth', stimulating the viewer to look more than once. Her goal is to problematise our gaze. Visual ambiguities appeal to her and inspire her photography.
When did you start getting interested in photography?
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. I started studying photography two and a half years ago. 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.
Where do you find your inspiration?
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.
Who are your favourite artists/photographers?
Has your style of shooting changed since you first started?
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.
Where is your favourite place to shoot?
In the city, in the streets, in places related to urban life.
Do you think equipment is important in achieving your vision in your photography? What would you say to someone just starting out?
A 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.
What characteristics do you think you need to become a photographer? What’s your tips or advice for someone in your genre?
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.
Tell us more about your involvement in the artistic world before photography?
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.
Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
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.
If I wasn't photographing what would I be doing?...
Now my great passion is photography, so I cannot imagine anything else.
Thank you Alicia!
All photos © Alicia Haber