Have you ever thought about how the relationship between your body and the environment works? Have you ever questioned the interaction between all those things we can define and all those things we can’t? Well, she has. She is doing it, more specifically, through photography. She is Alexandra Von Fuerst, an Italian girl who transforms human bodies into plastic objects by shooting them, in order to explore all the indefinite aspects that conform reality – letting us see the world through her unique, evocative, and inspiring vision.
Hello, Alexandra. To start with, tell us about your relationship with photography. Is it purely professional or does it go beyond that?
I believe photography simply reflects my way of perceiving reality. I am a very imaginative and visual person; all my images represent how I see the world around me. I feel in fact very lucky being able to work with such an interesting and powerful means of communication.
When and how was the very first time you realised that shooting was what you really wanted to do? How did this path start?
I studied Fashion Photography in Milan and I believe the moment I realised shooting was part of my life was shortly after graduating, when I moved to Berlin. Before that moment I was slightly confused, I was very passionate about photography but I didn't know which path I was following, I felt out of place. Leaving the school system behind and starting to work on my own, without any limits and external opinions, gave me the freedom and responsibility to make my own choices and most of all to understand how much I was and I am interested in developing my future around photography.
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Your style when working is very distinctive, halfway between fashion photography and art photography. The models in your pictures become some kind of plastic bodies closely linked with the environment around them. Tell us more about your perception behind the camera. What do you want to explore by doing this?
My work is mainly focused on the conception of the subject as a changing object in space. I like exploring the relationship between the human body and the environment around it, suggesting an almost abstract perception of the subject.
The body is perceived as sculptural, therefore also its movement is fundamental: it interacts with space creating tension and developing into pure shape. My interest is moreover concentrated on the contrast between the sensible, material, and the untouchable, undefined aspect of reality. I am seeking for the substance of reality, the thin line between abstraction and concreteness. Texture becomes very important to underline this aspect in my work, in contrast with the blurred borders between space and body.
How were your first photographs compared to those you are shooting today? Style, technique, colours, textures… What has changed the most and why?
I'd like to point out that I consider my first photographs to be the ones I took after graduation, as I believe that period to be the real beginning of my production. I think I still have to improve a lot, but I'd say the major difference between my initial and my current work is the awareness of the direction I am following and the consequent research behind every shooting.
My first images turn out to be simpler, improvised, and less careful in terms of details. At the moment, I am taking more care of every shot, especially in connection to the fashion aspect of my work. On the contrary, my use of colours and my interest in shape, movement and texture has not changed. I still feel connected to some of my early series.
“My work is mainly focused on the conception of the subject as a changing object in space.”
After this whole evolution, can you tell us about your creative process now? How is the path between you having an idea and the moment when the picture is already taken?
I usually simply start from an indefinite image that forms in my mind or from something I see, and then begin to collect other images until I get to a more definite concept. I sometimes read some texts but I mostly save as many visual references as possible. After building an idea I discuss it with the team I will be working with, especially with the stylist. The results are usually slightly different from the original starting point, as I also like experimenting or rather finding the best solution for a shot whilst on set. Postproduction plays finally quite an important part in my production.
Where does this way of looking after the lens comes from? What kind of influences can be found in your work?
I feel very influenced by abstract painting, in particular by Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and by the studies on colour by Josef Albers. Photographically I am interested in many different artists, in particular in the work of Isabelle Wenzel, Brigitte Niedermair and Julia Noni among others.
On the other hand, what kind of things keeps your mind away from work?
I mostly enjoy spending time in nature and escaping from the city as much as I can. Listening to classical and contemporary instrumental music also helps me finding my own space.
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You were born in Italy but, if I am not mistaken, you are currently living and working in London. What did you expect from this city? What are the most important things, lessons or opportunities London has given to you?
I moved to London mostly to improve the fashion aspect of my photographs and to find a more stimulating working environment. I was looking for a more efficient city and found an amazing capital full of opportunities. The contrast with Berlin is very strong, and after spending one year in such an easy, liveable, young city, coming to London was very strange at first. The pressure this city puts you under is hard to deal with initially; at least this was my personal experience. On the other hand, it is also a fresh and stimulating capital, it has a very strong energy and pushes you to improve yourself everyday. I believe London is teaching me to be patient and consistent in following my goals.
There’s another thing we can see on your website. The Visual Journey you did in Berlin, during September last year. Tell us more about this project where no models were needed.
Berlin's carousel is a very personal project I did in September 2015 before moving to London. I felt the need to collect my own memories of the city; I was interested in creating a visual catalogue of Berlin, reflecting at the same time myself in the images. The project therefore becomes a mirror of myself, of my feelings, memories and vision in connection to a collection of precise and analytical images of the capital. Colours are of course at the centre of this project, creating connections and giving rhythm to the work. While shooting this project I focused mostly on the architecture, deliberately not including any human subject to maintain my focus on the almost abstract urban landscape. I perceived Berlin as a place in constant growth and mutation and hopefully I will be able to continue my documentation of the city over the years.
Which are your short and long term goals?
I am planning to stay in London and continue with my work here. I'd like to keep on travelling in the meantime as well, but I am quite sure that London is the place I need to be in at the moment.
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