PF Fotografie Magazine Interview #6 2020 by Merel Huisink
- Please introduce yourself. Where are you from and when were you born? Where do you live and work now? Why did you move to the Netherlands?
My name is Pardo Iannini, I am Colombian, born in Bogota the capital city. I reside in the Netherlands for thirteen years now, after having lived in Italy and the UK. I moved to the Netherlands because of a Master degree.
- How and when did you start your career as a photographer? At what age did you know you wanted to become a photographer and why?
My father gave me an ever-flash camara when I was eight, however developing colour was expensive, I then got to use his Zenith camera and shoot in Black and White and I loved it, I remember still the first night developing in the bathroom, the smell, the printing on paper. I knew then that I loved taking pictures, however it was not until five years ago that I decided to really study it. I came in touch with the work of several known photographers and read a lot of books on photography and this gave me the push I needed.
- Which studies did you do before the Fotoacademie? Why did you go to the Fotoacademie? What was your experience like studying at the Fotoacademie? What have you learned about entrepreneurship? What did you learn at the academy about making photo series? For example, did you learn to look critically at your work? Which subjects have you benefited the most from?
Like many photographers I have other background, I am an Industrial Engineer and have a master’s in business administration degree. Fotoacademie was the way for me to go beyond technique, I wanted critique, I wanted real feedback and I wanted to be challenged and taken out of my comfort zone, I got all that and more there. One of the biggest teachings I received was from my teacher Matt de Groot, he thought me how to detach myself from the work and to look at it as a different viewer (I still need to practice that more!!!). Series making is quintessential in photography, having a concise visual story is really difficult, so I am really thankful to Karianne Bueno on her teachings on that side.
- Are you going to start your own business as an art photographer? Or do you already have your own company? Do you work elsewhere besides photography?
Currently I have my own company as a photographer to sell my work. At the time being, I work on a corporate job to be able to shoot what I want and be free from monetary concerns, I have to say though that time is my biggest problem nowadays and that I would love to have more of it and live from my art.
- How do you market your photography? How do you promote your work on social media? Do you have tips for others on how to best promote yourself?
Meeting people in person is really important and to let them know what you do is crucial. However, Instagram and Facebook are my tools to promote my work to a broader audience. I think that the most important thing is to be yourself and to show interest in other’s people work and specially interact. I have great contacts via Instagram and in person because of that. Most importantly, have a plan of who do you want to meet and why. Not in a cold commercialistic way, but more like a goal to set in the horizon. I would love to meet for example Sarah Meiser or Clément Chéroux from MoMA I find them lovely and interesting human beings that have an amazing demanding job.
- Do you sell your work as an artist by yourself? Or are you looking for a gallery? How do you approach the galleries? Are you looking for a gallery in the Netherlands or abroad? Do you have any tips for other art photographers on how best to approach a gallery?
At the moment I am selling my work by myself, but yes, I am looking for representation both here and abroad. Tips, the most important thing I would say is to understand that the relationship with a gallery is that, a relationship, so you need to look for a gallery that suits you and you suit them, don’t approach randomly without knowing what type of art or artists they represent. Be present at openings and ask them to talk about some piece that you found interesting and listen on how they describe other artist’s work, do you like the way they do it? In a nutshell, do your homework, stay true to yourself and be professional
- Please tell us about your photo series Jurema. What is the topic and what inspired you to create this body of work? When and how did you start? How did you develop your idea to make this work? Did it emerge from older work?
As a seeker of spirituality, that longing and search, brought me to the Amazon jungle in Colombia where I experienced rituals with Sacred Plants, most specifically Ayahuasca. The process is intense both physically and psychologically as you cleanse both your body and your mind. It is accompanied by visions and intense feelings while still being conscious the whole time. A common vision and feeling is the presence of the spirit of nature, the goddess Jurema who reigns the spirits world. Besides the feeling of oneness with nature, I was gifted with a new way of looking at reality. I am still looking for spiritual answers but Jurema thought me to look at nature with other eyes.
- What is the underlying theme and message do you want to convey to the viewer with your photo project Jurema? What is the story behind your work that you tell with your images? What meaning is behind the objects you have photographed? For example, what does the peacock feather mean that someone is holding in their hand? Did you take pictures at night? Why did you use flash in some images like the third image on your website page of Jurema?
There is more to experience in the world than what our senses allow us to, I believe that we should be not fooled into thinking this is all that there is. Nature is much more and needs to be experienced and respected as the powerful source that it is.
A lot of the objects and items I have photographed came from an instinctual approach, so I did not look for a specific meaning in the picture, I wanted to leave that open as it was for me during my Amazonian experience, a vision that can be interpreted by the viewer in many ways. I shoot pictures at night, but not solely, and I use flash because it enables me to bring a sense of otherworldliness into my pictures.
- Please tell us about the process, technique, and style. Tell us about your way of making composition, lightning, and post processing. Do you use special gear, like cameras or lenses, or lights to create your style in your work? Do you work analogue or completely digital? Or both combined?
I use both analog and digital. My process is different with both, but the idea is to land in the same flow state in the end. Digital allows me to experiment and play around, while film is more contemplative. I don’t use special gear other than every now and then a gel on my flash. Because of the spiritual nature of the pictures I wanted to use the images just as they were gifted to me, other than tuning the image I don’t do more postprocessing.
- Which artists or photographers inspire you? And which other cultural expressions, like philosophy, literature or science did inspire you?
I have a thing with Japanese photography, so Moriyama, Fukase, Kiwauchi and Lieko Shiga are to be named. Also I am a big fan of Trent Parke and Meyerowitz. For this project I let myself be inspired by what people call world music, Juana Molina and Chancha via Circuito. I did a lot of research on ayahuasca from anthropological texts, but also loved to talk to people about their experiences. As of late I am studying esoteric books, I find the content fascinating and the illustrations mesmerizing.
- Do you have upcoming exhibitions and projects?
At the moment I am doing a joint project with a friend of mine inspired in the shapes of his ego, for that I have some pictures taken but I still don’t know if the end result is going to be in the form of an exhibition. I still take pictures inspired by Jurema, and although it has been exhibited three times, I would love to get the chance to see it exhibited at FOAM 3H.
JUREMA - an interview with PARDO IANNINI by LINDA ZHENGOVÁ for GUP NEW
Pardo Iannini is a Colombian Italian visual artist currently residing in the Netherlands. In his latest project ‘Jurema’, Iannini travelled to the Amazonian jungle in his homeland Colombia to explore one’s position in the universe through shamanistic practices. In this interview, Iannini reveals the details of his spiritual journey and the creative process behind ‘Jurema’.
In your project ‘Jurema’ you pose existential questions about the universe and your position in it. Could you please explain what does the title refer to specifically?
Jurema means several things. It is an evergreen and its bark, used in a drink (like ayahuasca), relates to a shamanic tradition from the Tupi Indians. Additionally, Jurema is the motherly spirit of a tree that presides over a spirit’s paradise also called Jurema.
For ‘Jurema’, you returned to Colombia, your home country. How do you view the different approaches to spirituality and philosophy of life there in comparison to the Western world?
Colombia is also a western country but at the same time it is a melting pot of cultures. It has a mix of European and African influences blend with indigenous traditions. The latter is perhaps the most significant difference. Let’s say that westernised spirituality is more idealised and indigenous is more practical. To give an example: ayahuasca and similar kind of ceremonies are experienced in the West as something “new age” - with white clothing, quartzes, incense and recorded music. But during traditional ceremonies, people sit more in the dark and they are wearing their daily clothes while listening to the shaman’s chants.
‘Jurema’ presents the viewers with images that contain an abundance of natural and ritualistic elements. Is there a specific reason for including them and is that something reflective of Columbian culture in particular?
I’ve consciously stayed away from anything that could be called “Colombian”, the whole idea of a country is a production of the ego, which is contrary to the spiritual quest. For my project, I’ve included natural elements like plants and light, as I saw these elements over and over during my ceremonies. I wanted the viewer to have the same feeling - disoriented, not really knowing what they are looking at, while keeping known elements as anchors to our world.
In your series, you combine both black and white and colour photographs. Does the visual technique somehow relate to the boundaries of the real and unreal?
That is a really good question, and the answer is that for me in the project there are no boundaries between real or unreal. There are only different grades of what we perceive. Colour-wise, I have followed a ‘no boundaries philosophy’, however, I’ve used a lot of blue, as the colour has a spiritual connotation in the history of the arts, and for me personally too. Blue brings an element of what is visible but unattainable – like a blue sky.
What has this existential journey brought to you and is your search for answers finished?
My search for answers is not finished, perhaps it’s better to say that it has only expanded. ‘Jurema’ explores my experiences during the quest and how I’ve encountered new ways of seeing and perceiving the world. I am planning to keep using that new vision and have my projects intertwined with the spiritual quest. Although I am still interested in exploring ‘Jurema’ visually, I am currently doing research on Hermetics and Kabbalah. Let’s see where that takes me, both personally and photographically.