Interview with: Sara Carpentieri
Predominantly a fashion and portrait photographer, Sara Carpentieri sees herself exploring themes surrounding technology, Human behaviour and gender exploration. Working on both very personal photography projects and client briefs, consistently showing her style of photography throughout with a real focus on colour and subject. Most Recently she has explored her on-going project ‘The Queer Spaces We Create’ that focuses on various Queer Artists, designers and actors who share their own artistic practices and experiences. Her work has been exhibited on a variety of platforms and magazines including the likes of Dazed Digital, CLASH, PITCHFORK, I-D, DIY, BBC online and The Face magazine.
Welcome Sara, I would like to start this interview from the beginning, do you remember which artist or which artwork moved something inside you when you were a child?
As a child I was surrounded by artwork made by relatives, especially my Nona, who lived in Naples where my Dads side of the family are from. She predominantly painted very concentrated still lifes of bright flowers, or landscapes of the bay in Naples with all the fishermen’s boats on display. There was always a disposable camera around when I was younger, the cupboards at home are now
full of photos of holidays, weddings, school photos, etc.
Without realising, I was exposed to the idea of recording and organising photos and artwork. I was lucky enough to have a real archive of images, I think that’s where the appreciation of physical imagery and especially film imagery was born. The physicality of a set of film images, for me, is like being able to hold a book in your hands and flip the pages, being able to be in control and feel what you are absorbing and making is something that is important in my own practice now. I vividly remember going to the British Museum with my family in 2013 when I was 17 and being intrigued by an exhibition that was on at the time ‘Shunga: Sex and pleasure in Japanese art’. I remember the feeling of shock when I first walked in seeing the very graphic paintings and drawings
on display but then feeling quite liberated seeing how sex and sexuality can be shown as beautiful pieces of art, telling and recounting stories and blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. One of the best books I ever came across and that I still love now is Juergen Teller’s self-entitled photo book, Full of flash photography of flesh and skin, all so exposed and on display. The most important element of art for me seems to be the shock factor, the beauty of exposure and making you see something in a different light and perspective. I want my eyes to be opened and my mind to be changed.
And then? how have your approach and references changed growing up?
I think my approach and inspiration has changed in a way that I have been able to meet other people who I can relate to and learn from them. Being exposed to a different way of living and being, rather than just reading it in books or seeing it online, gives you a different and more real perspective. It allows you to inform your work with more authentic, primary research through stories and
experiences that are happening right now. It lets you to make work that is truly original and unique to each person’s story as well as reaching out to a wider network of people in a certain community.
How would you describe your practice to someone who doesn't know you? what are the recurring elements, themes, concepts you refer to?
My practice is all about sharing the stories of others and giving a platform to other artists and creatives who are underrepresented, especially individuals and groups within the LGBTQI+ community that I call my own. I primarily show this through photos and moving image and focus a lot on how identity can be shown through dress, which I believe is a language on its own.
I find a lot of inspiration from the social platforms that have appeared and expanded far from just their social features. Digital spaces are actively part of our everyday lives and are a huge part of how we navigate through the world. We have the opportunity to use platforms to express exactly how we feel every day to thousands or even millions of people. I find it interesting how people are now
branding themselves and how this visual identity is more than just about interacting and connecting. The social element of it all is important but people are quickly realising that there’s even more opportunity to create an impact and initiate real change.
Usually each artist has a different modus operandi, what is yours? how did your projects start and how do they develop?
Usually I have an idea in my head of what I want the outcome to be already, so I find myself working back on myself. I often move on quickly from ideas unless I can delve into researching about it or something has particularly grabbed me. I like knowing the background of things, why people make certain decisions and the way we act in different environments, navigating through them as
individuals. I’m a very curious person and I love learning about people, I love understanding other people’s processes and even the smallest of mannerisms that make up a person. I think these smaller details are vital for understanding and discovering who we are.
Inspiration comes to me in the form of an individuals own archives, the items and everyday environments that make shapes them as people. When I talk to the people in my images its often to understand what makes them who they are and how in that moment we can completely capture all of that in a single image.
What function do you attribute to your works and why?
My work is really about informing people about how others experience the world. I think photos should tell a story and let others learn about people that they may not come across or know about in their own environment and world. I think it’s hard to remember that we curate our lives to make sure the people around us and everything we absorb is what we want to have around us. Through Instagram and twitter especially, we refine the people we see on our feed, the opinions we want to hear and the people we aspire to be like, we want to feel a sense of comfort and direction in our digital world just as much as we do in our physical spaces. From my own experience, the times I’ve felt most uncomfortable are the times I’ve learn the most about myself and the world around me. It’s important to keep an open mind and not just channel everything into your life that you already know. Being open to others opinions and views, whether you agree with them or not, are vital for us to understand each other as unique individuals and see the amazing qualities in everyone.