In support of our exhibition Adrift, we’re asking our exhibiting artists four questions to help you get to know a bit about them and their work.
Isidro Ramirez is a Spanish photographer now based in Singapore. After living, working and studying in the UK for 20 years he moved to Singapore in 2011. His work shows a delicate balance what is real and what is perceived, between the fabric of place and the texture of memory.
Isidro is represented by Troika Editions
What can a photo do that other representations can’t? What is it that made you choose photography over other media as a way of communicating?
Photography has often been compared to painting for obvious reasons. There are elements they share like the rectangular shape and traditional genres they are subdivided into such as portrait, landscape etc. Photography and painting also share the stillness of the image that invites reflection. On the other hand, they are technically different and more than painting photography is linked to reality and has been given the role of documenting rather than representing the world. I have been interested in photography partly because of this. I think there is great potential in exploring, challenging and pushing these conventions. I also think photography, being a newer form of artistic expression, offers photographers more freedom and possibilities with fewer limitations. Ultimately I choose photography as a mean of expression because I like its aesthetics and methodologies and because it is a media that fits well the issues I have chosen to explore.
What’s the first thing you remember photographing and why did you choose it as your subject?
I remember playing with a little camera when I was about 5. I have little recollection of what I photographed and the film was never processed (maybe the camera had no film). What I remember well is a feeling of joy and fun while I was playing with this camera. I started photography seriously when I was 27 before that I used point and shoot cameras to photograph family and friends. My first meaningful contact with photography was not by taking photographs but by looking at photographs in the family album. This family album consisted of a few tin boxes filled to the top with wonderful black and white photographs of my distant family. I would sometimes spend hours looking and selecting photographs. These photographs still captivate me to this day. My first serious attempt to photography was in 1993 when I was working as a lighting assistant during the filming of a short film in Oxford. Apart from learning a lot about lighting, I also did a little documentary of the filming. That hooked me up.
How does your photographic process work, where do you start? Is it with a theory or idea, or is it driven by aesthetics or a desire to use a certain technique or piece of equipment?
Definitely driven by ideas, theory and concepts, everything else is secondary. I would usually think of an idea by doing some theory reading or maybe sometimes while I am photographing for a different project. Travelling and visiting new places also play a part in this idea generation process. Once the idea is clear I would think what is the best way to make it into a visual project. This can take days or years. I still have ideas for project I thought of more than 5 years ago that I have not been able to realise as a visual project.
Have you found photography to be an effective research tool? Has it uncovered ideas which have changed the path of your thinking?
I don’t think of photography as a research tool. I think of it as a visual expression of my research. Chronologically speaking, research first then photography. I do not intent to create knowledge when producing photographic projects. I am interested in creating visual work that inspires a sense of wonder.
The process of photographing is discriminatory specially when using a large format camera that takes lots of work to set up and operate (not to mention the costs of buying and processing film). Photography is a great tool to help to focus ideas. It separates what is unimportant or irrelevant from what is pertinent and poignant. There is no doubt photography has aided me to learn about a great variety of subjects.
What’s your favourite f-stop?
Without taking this question too seriously I would say that the one that is appropriate for the image at hand.
Isidro is represented by Troika Editions and can see more of his work and writing here;