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.
Nora Alissa graduated from Goldsmiths College, University of London, with a distinction in the MA in Photography and Urban Cultures. She is now working on several projects which look at different aspects of lived experiences, including the everyday, space and culture. She also works as an art consultant in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, helping to promote visual arts in the country.
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?
I think most people relate to a photograph, which makes it a powerful tool that could evoke emotions. It can overcome a wide range of barriers such as illiteracy, age, differences in language and cultures. A photograph could also be used as a documentation device. In addition, the immediacy of photography is not comparable to other mediums.
What’s the first thing you remember photographing and why did you choose it as your subject?
I don’t remember the first photograph I took, but I vividly remember the first print I made. It was a portrait of my grandmother taken by my mother. My mother was teaching me how to develop and the moment the image came to life was the moment I wanted to learn more about photography and how to take photos.
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?
I can give you a fancy answer but for me photography is an intuitive act. I don’t always have a theory before starting a project. The need to take photos comes from within me and then ideas start to develop.
Have you found photography to be an effective research tool? Has it uncovered ideas which have changed the path of your thinking?
Yes, it is an essential tool for gathering visual information accurately. I sometimes use participatory photography as a research tool that helps me understand the participants point of view.
Photography has made me see the world differently. Noticing every detail around me and taking in my surroundings with more discerning consciousness has changed the way I think. Ideas are sometimes uncovered from the multiple meanings negotiated when viewing photographs.
What’s your favourite f-stop?
It depends on what I’m shooting.