Interview with Natali Legance “photographs in poems”

Image by Legance

In her debut as art photographer in a solo exhibition, Natali Legance presents faces, figurative abstractions, water reflections, glimpses of decaying buildings, figures of the street. But this variety of images collected under the general title “Krieg, Leiden, Zerstörung” (War, Pains, Destructions) is offered to the public in a very original way. This young artist from Georgia and Israel chose to exhibit his thirteen photographic works matching them with short literary texts.

Why this conjunction between words and photographs? Long since I love creative writing: in the last two years I have worked on a book I hope to finish soon. I write because I like to perceive poetry in my life, admiring the reality in its various aspects, and understanding art thought life. When I started to work at my exhibition I thought that some short texts could help people looking my photos. The idea was to combine photographs and texts, offering an interpretive key. Not a critical judgment, nothing of so rigid, but the possibility to associate words and visions, concepts and impressions.

Image by LeganceIn what way, more precisely, your lyrics and your pictures are connected to each other? Since its origins, poetry is associated with the movement and in ancient times it was strictly linked to music. For this reason, poetry moves in time rather than in space. On the contrary, photography is the art of the image: the single moment ripped the timestream, isolated, stopped forever. With my writing I’m trying to imagine a “song almost motionless” and a “photography almost dynamic”, trying to go beyond the structural laws of these artistic forms. My writing seeks simplicity and it would like to stop time, whereas my images try to show how reality is in a perennial movement, transformation, innovation.

Your more abstract photographs, but also those reproducing the water of the Venetian Lagoon, seem essentially marked by instability: they show fluctuations that (in the text) are also connected to the uncertainty of life. I think that our existence is uncertain because it is open to possibilities: and I like it. Some of the photographs exhibited in this occasion seem to me that investigate the link between body and mind, between matter and form, which refers to the dynamism of reality.

Image by LeganceFor a century now, many artists seemed to cause more than communicate, in a very intellectualistic way. With your texts and your photographs your creativity, on the contrary, seems to me seeking out its own poetry, with the purpose intends to touch emotional chords and arouse emotions. Is it so?
I like 20th century and contemporary art: I like surrealism and dadaism, and I like the artists who try to live in our time. And at the same I think that one of the limits of modern art is the almost total triumph of reason, words, abstract “manifestos” (as in the case of many avant-garde). For me, art photography is called to explore mind, sensations, feelings. The best photos are able to enter in the deep of us, as the best artistic expressions always did in the past.

You spoke about the exploration of mind, and in fact it is your profession, as psychiatrist. As you see the relationship between what you did when you take care your patients and your activity as artist (poet and photograph)? These activities are very different, and I try as more as possible to take them separate: to distinguish my professional life and my personal world. At the same time it is true that I am much more interested in people than in nature. I am really social, interested in staying with friends and knowing new people. And it is true that “art” and “artificial” – all things created by human the beings – are strictly connected not only from a linguistic point of view.

What relationship you see between artist and psychiatry? Personally, I am very attracted by the artist as a special character. We cannot generalize, of course, but it is true that many artists are special people, with peculiar features, similar troubles, analogue attitudes. From a psychiatric point of view, for instance, artists are often threatened by narcissism. They suffer for it: they need to understand it and try to fight it. I am interested in understand this portion of humanity.

In a text you speak of the “memory of memory” (Die Erinnerung an die Erinnerung). In what way poetry and photography save the past into the present and toward the future? Each photograph is a sort of selection, but it also true for the poetry, because the writer choose some words and the text is the outcome of these choices. Moreover, writings and photos are interpretations of the reality: they imply a subjective point of view over the life. So, I think that in every artistic activity there is something of “aristocratic”, because we have the hope to preserve moments, impressions and intuitions with the firm belief that that specific experience was more interesting and important than others.

Your pictures come from distant worlds. There are fragments from Georgia, Paris and Venice. My impression is that these worlds, you have seen and experienced in your lifetime, are not occasional wallpapers: that they play a role and they have a lively presence in your art. I like traveling and I like many cities and countries. I have born in Georgia (when it was under the Soviet Union), I grew up in Israel and ten years ago I moved to Berlin, when I work as psychiatrist. So my life drove me in different societies, but I don’t feel myself as a “déraciné”, a person without roots. On the contrary, I have strong links with all the worlds I have met in my life. Maybe I have multiple roots and this put me to have a strong interest for cities, civilizations, countries.

What is your relationship with languages? Because my life and my curiosity, I speak six languages: Georgian, Hebrew, Russian, German, English and Italian. So, as photographer I think in many languages, but as poet my language is German.

The solo exhibition of Natali Legance – entitled “Krieg, Leiden, Zerstörung” – will run since 31 May until 14 September at the Alten Berliner Garnisonsfriedhof, Lapidarium, Austellungssraum Kleine Rosenthaler Strasse 3, Mitte district, Berlin.

Interview by Carlo Lottieri

Mia Morris is co-founder of indieberlin and a Berlin native. She has been active in the Berlin arts scene since the early zeroes as photographer and visual artist, also under the name Funkyrotic. Mia Morris also runs which specialises in SEO marketing and website optimisation.

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