"Car Bodies" by Francesca Rosa

Dec 04, 2017

Francesca is an Australian photomedia artist and educator who approaches photography with a forensic aesthetics in which typologies and collections are an essential part. In Francesca's series we can perceive meticulously composed images where every detail plays an important role. In the series presented here, Francesca dissects discarded cars using a detached approach and therefore leaving us with the freedom to complete the stories behind these abandoned vehicles.


Following we present an interview that we had with Francesca:


am - First of all thank you very much for your contribution to our project. Can you please introduce yourself for us?

FR - Hi, my name is Francesca Rosa and I am a photomedia artist and educator from Australia. I studied a Master of Art (Photomedia) in Sydney at the University of New South Wales (Art & Design). After 23 years of working in the city, I have now returned to my hometown of Innisfail, to be close to, and inspired by the rural and tropical Far North Queensland landscape (gateway to the Great Barrier Reef!). Currently, my focus is my four year old son Nico, and when time permits, I create works that explore personal and local histories of my surrounding environment.


am - How did you start in photography?

FR - I am interested and have worked in many mediums, however it was throughout my undergraduate degree while experimenting in black & white and cibachrome darkroom processes, that I realised the potential of photography as an incredibly explorative and unrestrictive form. Initially, my practice was very subjective and abstract, however it now is considered objective and documentary in genre. My photographic focus has included landscapes, institutional, industrial and domestic interiors; abandoned spaces and objects. I still prefer film and use a medium format Rollei SL66 camera.


am - What inspires your work?

FR - History. I am very nostalgic, and ‘the past’ is always evident in my work.


am - What is “Car Bodies” about?

FR - 'Car Bodies' is a typology of one hundred derelict vehicles photographed in the Far North Queensland landscape of Australia. Documented over a four-year period, the archive reveals motionless, obsolete and decaying car bodies discarded in rural and suburban environments. Faded, flaked, rusted, scratched, smashed and moulded, the relics lie in surreal disjunction against their surroundings, exposing sites in states of literal and philosophical decomposition, highlighting artificial and natural elements coexisting in a temporal state, despite the interference of humans. The abandoned cars were discovered on highways, roads, streets, farms and backyards surrounding my hometown. The obsessive quest to document as many cars as possible became a somewhat curious and sympathetic response to the demise of each car. Who were the cars’ previous owners? And why had they been forsaken? Many of the cars had exhausted their original purpose due to physical damage. Others appeared functional, however due to unknown motives were rejected. 'Car Bodies' explores the aesthetics of decay, emphasising it as an expression of memory, loss and time. The series is presented as a forensic testament to the momentary nature of these ruins. Although each car is now visually preserved, the inevitability of technological obsolescence is symbolic. Ultimately, the images testify and act metaphorically for untold histories, the chemistry of change, and the impermanence of life.


am - How would you describe your visual language?

FR - Conceptually I am influenced by the forensic aesthetic. Defined as art bound together by space, representation and crime, I assess the composition of every photograph through visual evidence. This aesthetic reinforces the notion that although a photograph typically records what is seen, it can question what is not. Typologies and collections are integral to my practice, and would say that my work needs to be read as a series and require interpretation sequentially in order to make comparisons between them. All the sites I have documented are void of people yet shaped or interrupted by the constructs of human behaviour. I’m interested in the ways in which artificial and natural worlds coexist or compete and the visual language that transpires from this interface.


am - Who are your favourite photographers / artists?

FR - Oh so many, however I admire Eugène Atget and his Parisian ‘crime scene’ photo documents and Zoe Leonard’s translation of the social landscape.  Lynne Cohen, Roger Mertin, Lucinda Devlin, who have all employed the typological approach to depict public and private spaces of the domestic and built environment. Robert Polidori’s meticulously detailed ‘forensic like’ large-format photographs of human habitats and aftermath are breathtaking.  Also, the way in which collaborative artists Haris Epaminonda and Daniel Gustav Cramer interpret and present the photographic image is very inspiring.


am - What’s your favourite movie?

FR - Impossible to choose, however the beautifully heartbreaking German drama ‘The Lives of Others’ left me weeping for days. Such a poignant and powerful story about history, that also inspired me creatively due to its completely analogue approach to film making. I love the way the cinematographer chose to pull-process the film to achieve its desaturated aesthetic. The movie gave me the inspiration to complete a residency in Berlin!


am - What is your favourite photo book?

FR - Joel Sternfeld’s ‘On This Site: Landscape in Memoriam’ which initiated my interest to record space that holds evidence of the past; and Ed Ruscha’s ‘Royal Road Test’, which was pivotal in developing my conceptual and forensic approach to photography.


am - Thank you very much for your time and your contribution to analog magazine.

FR - Thank you for your interest in my work.

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