Most of us spend our lives trying to find out our true nature. Estelle Hanania has spent her whole life capturing the journey of many of her subjects. She has published a series of photography collections, each exploring a different subject. As she embarks on her next adventure within her personal and professional life, Estelle shows how an artist can delve deeper into the human psyche than even the best scientists.
Do you feel that nature has a huge influence on your work?
Nature is a strong element in a lot of my series but it's not the main influence, nature itself doesn't fulfill my need of subjects and stories. It's a perfect setting but it needs some action in it.Actually, I'm more of a city person, even though it tends to change as I get older. When i was a kid I lived in the East suburbs of Paris, I felt strongly connected to the city, I loved it, its pavements, its tall buildings or beautiful little houses, the electric poles and railroads I could see from the bridge near the station. And when the holiday time would arrive and my family would head toward the countryside I would suddenly realize I totally forgot nature even existed.
What are your thoughts on writing?
I'm not very at ease when it comes to write. It is a frustration for me not to be able to translate into words what I have in mind. It's a bit as if writing was another way of seeing the world and relate to it. 2 years ago I was in London for an ongoing project about Purim, a Jewish celebration, and I took photos of kids in disguise walking in the streets. I asked people if i could photograph them and sometimes I had to face negative answers, then when I came back by train I decided to write and describe all the photos I couldn't take.
What does the “Happy Purim” series mean to you?
Happy Purim series is a story I shoot every year during the Jewish celebration of Purim. This joyful days celebrate an episode in Jewish history, where a massacre was averted. I really put myself in a very outsider's position, looking at what happenedd in the streets, quickly looking through open doors and yards. I was interested in the movement of kids in their own neighborhood, how they feel as if they were the kings of the streets and gravitate from a house to another with gifts and crazy costumes. The most interesting for me were all the siblings, sometimes a family of five kids would pop up from a doorstep very similar faces and dressed the same which is repetitive paternal unit that is fascinating. I'm a twin, I'm very much interested in doubles and in the duplication of oneself. I'm now working on a book for this project and an exhibition to be confirmed soon.
What mythology influences you the most?
I do remember the bedtime stories my mother told my sister and I. It was the story of Ulysses and the Odyssey for sure. Also she used to tell us about the different stories of the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology but my my main influence are the films I always carry with me, the artists, the illustrators and painters, I tend to create my own mythology, it's highly subjective, motley and slow to build up.
What drew you to explore the erotic nature of human beings next?
The body  is an endless source of inspiration and territory of exploration. The eroticism is one side of it, i like to plunge into that when i work for example with Christophe Brunnquell, though I think there's not much of eroticism in our work in the end. To photograph a naked body doesn't necessarily bring eroticism to the image. A close up portrait can be more erotic than a photograph of a naked girl. I think I don't have started work on eroticism yet.
What do you find most interesting about human nature?
Such a vast question. "Human nature" is a weird words association when you think of it.I just like these two association of words, human and nature, i think it's not so relevant these days to associate them, as we've become so disconnected to everything that is natural and raw and wild.
Human nature is a vast, complex, still mysterious thing to explore. In my photographs I explore the side of human nature gone wild for a little while, when people change their skin by wearing a costume, some make-up, etc.. A quest for identity, discovering (by covering) oneself.
Do you find your art and personal life are very intertwined?
Both have always been intertwined for me, I don't divide everyday life and creation, I don't switch off my brain or my eyes during the weekend or after 6pm. I have the chance to lead a free life in which I'm my own boss, I select my commissioned works, I follow my artistic instincts, I eat, sleep and raise my kid , all is part of the same momentum.
What is your ideal place to find inspiration?
A place where I'm alone with four or five of my favorites books and dvds, illimited jasmine tea, a computer, some note books and silence. I don't need a specific place, just a specific mindset.
What are you plans for the future?
A new book in the making with the Happy Purim series. I have a group show in June which is going to be very interesting. It will be in Brest in a contemporary art center, and it's called Vernacular Alchemists.
What does it entail to have a group show?
A group show is a great way to put my work in perspective with others. See to what 'art family' it could belong to and how a curator seems to link it to other pieces. I love it , it's a kind of double life for a piece to live among others, it's healthy to confront artworks.