Interview, Laura Zalenga -
The Evolution of an Artist
If you explored surrealism and conceptual art as I did, then Laura Zalenga is the artist that opened a doorway to an entirely new dimension of photography, with her work - she introduced a new world to all of us. Laura’s work widely includes her self-portraits, wandering into the unknowns of nature or sometimes, simply daydreaming regardless of where she is. What’s astonishing is that even after her developing her photographic style, set themes to play with, her work never gets old or repetitive. It simply remains fresh. Now, if you have only recently started following Laura’s work, you are bound to be floored by breathtaking imagery and effective storytelling, but that’s not something that happened overnight. It’s been a long process, something that must have started since when she took her first photograph. We can tell you what played a major role in that evolution, and that is her, staying true to herself. And from sometimes escaping into fairytales, to finally coming back into this moment, totally.
Laura, at the time when we first talked to you, each of your visual stories had a seed of a longing, but now, it’s different. Has the seed flowered?
It’s funny how I never saw a change happening. Maybe there was a little bit of longing and it turned into calm enjoying of places and moments. In general, I think melancholy is the one big topic that is always part of my images as I simply love that theme and think it is something very beautiful.
In some of your recent photographs, you have portrayed the subject in a pose as of a child sleeps in the mother’s womb. Is that your way of accepting and arriving into the womb of existence itself?
Actually, this pose has always been part of my photography and I still love it. To me, it’s not a symbol of arriving but a symbol of coming back to oneself. Taking a moment just for myself in a loud and fast world. Also often I use it - placed in a rough landscape - to show how small and fragile humans are compared to nature.
As a story, your characters are always in a setting where no other human exists, as if they are the only one there, and in a communion with existence, perhaps. These moments can’t be found in studying the regular life, so where from do these come to you?
Actually, most places I take photos at I am the only person there. That’s why those places inspire me. Silence - or better - only hearing sounds of nature is such a nice change from busy life in cities. Also, I believe spending quality-time alone with yourself is so very important to manage to listen to yourself.
..and your work never becomes predictable.
Thank you! That is so nice to know!
I can imagine, your work can still be interpreted as dark. Is there anything you would like to say on why darkness is actually something to be meditated upon?
I wouldn’t say meditating but rather appreciating. There is something incredibly beautiful about darkness. We need it - mostly to appreciate the light. But also darker feelings like melancholia, for example, are something so beautiful. There is something very calm about it. Hard to explain but looking back at decades of art shows it has always been a theme and I think this is for a reason.
Being a storyteller, are you concerned with what kind of emotions your work is transmitting into the person who looks at it? What do you want to transmit, silence or an emotion?
I am more curious than concerned. As an artist, I think you never create your art with the other people in mind. You do it for the sake of the piece itself and for yourself. Of course, most artists want their work to be seen but they don’t want it to be changed by thinking about who might see it. I simply hope that the viewers of my images feel something. That my images manage to move them or calm them or make their eyes smile and their soul to feel a connection.
Bald eagle is a self-portrait I took some days after I shaved my head for charity. We drove on a lonely street in Montana and the sky turned dark because of an upcoming thunder-storm. I wanted to be a silhouette in front of the last sunrays and with that setting the focus on the new version of my own head.
The whole moment was simply sitting there enjoying every fragment of the moment. I felt confident and new and it already smelled like rain while the ground was still so nice and warm. A moment to be remembered. It makes me happy to look at this image.
Bamboo Groove is another document of appreciating a moment.
You also just shared a piece from your collaboration with Disney. How was it like shooting with children, did they invoke your own inner child?
It was amazing! I rarely work with kids and was in awe about how much they smile and laugh and are not afraid to try things and to simply have fun. It definitely inspired me to be more free again.
You encourage dreaming. How important is dreaming for the human consciousness?
I believe it’s really important. Dreams in our sleep are such a crazy creative thing. Regularly I am amazed by what my mind is capable to come up with while I sleep.
Dreams about our future are what keeps us going, what drives us to give our best and what gives us hope.
And finally, daydreaming. How lucky are we that we can imagine things when we close our eyes. Our mind is the most magical wonderland where literally everything is possible. It’s actually strange we aren’t amazed by it more often.
Interview with Laura Zalenga