Mar 07, 2019
Alexandra is a French-Mexican photographer who focuses her work on topics such as identity, memory and history. Referring mainly to self-identity and autobiographical situations, Alexandra's images alternate between fiction and reality sublimating her daily life and making us to look into our own memories. In her series "Nesting in the Wolf Tree", Alexandra recounts her life through her wanderings in the Fontainebleu forest, interacting with and appropriating the territory in order to illustrate her emancipation journey.
am - First of all thank you very much for your contribution to our project. Can you please introduce yourself for us?
AS - I’m half French half Mexican. I was born and raised in a small town an hour south from Paris. At the age of 18, I moved to London for five years where I attended university. I live now in Paris where I’ve been working as a photographic artist for nearly 6 years. I had my work featured in various publications and exhibitions across Europe and North America.
In addition to my personal artistic practice, I teach photography to BA students at the Sorbonne university and give photography workshops in collaboration with various museums and artistic institutions in France. Currently, I’m doing a residency combining photography and sound, questioning the notion of rurality in a small village in the North East of France.
am - How did you start in photography?
AS - As a child and teenager, I have always been interested in art, mainly painting and poetry, but never felt any particular attraction towards photography. After graduating from high school I left my hometown in France for London where I started a BA. I was unsure about what I wanted to do and enrolled on a Creative Advertising course thinking it could be to a good carrier path. On the first day of class, I got lost and found myself in the university basement where stood the darkroom of the photography department. I chatted with the technicians and watched the other students working on their prints. This place fascinated me immediately. The silence, the smell and all these images appearing and disappearing under the red light. That’s when photography found me. After a week, I’ve changed my BA to photography and later completed a Masters in Photographic Studies at the University of Westminster.
am - What is “Nesting in the Wolf Tree” about?
AS - Nesting in the Wolf Tree is a series that depicts the forest as a space of the unseen and the mysterious whose immensity engenders admiration, contemplation and fright. It combines self-portraits, still lifes and landscapes.
The territory I chose to portray is the forest of Fontainebleau, located 60km at the south of Paris. The latter has become over the years a familiar environment, a place to which I became intimately attached, since the house in which I grew up stood at the edge of this very forest. As a child, these woods were my playground, the land of many adventures and extraordinary stories. As a teenager, they became a place of freedom and escapism away from parental authority. Today, they are a space for introspection and peacefulness.
The series starts as a wander and slowly turns into a journey of initiation and emancipation. As I progress deeper into the woods, I start interacting physically with the forest in an attempt to tame the surrounding nature. Through my
constructed still lifes, made from natural elements gathered during my daily walks, I create a dialogue between the inside and the outside, the built and the wild, while calling upon souvenirs and sensations which progressively transform the forest into a place of memory that resonates with the melancholy of time.
am - Who are your favourite photographers / artists?
AS - There are many but the ones that come to mind are Oscar Munoz, Duane Michals, Thierry Fontaine, Helena Almeida, Graciela Iturbide, Rinko Kawauchi, Richard Long, Giuseppe Penone...
am - What’s your favourite movie?
AS - I’m very sensible to Hirokazu Kore-eda’s work. Movies like « Father, Like Son » or « Shoplifters » have moved me deeply.
am - What is your favourite photo book?
AS - I haven’t bought a photography book in a while, but lately I’ve been looking back at Carolle Benitah’s Photo Souvenirs" or Sophie Calle’s "Les Dormeurs".
am - Thank you very much for your time and your contribution to analog magazine.
AS - Thank you!
All images © Alexandra Serrano