Eleonora Agostini (b.1991) is an Italian photographer. She studied photography at the Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan and at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Her body of work explores the subjects of temporariness, transition, banality, absence and isolation and her images fill the viewer with a subtle unease and discomfort. Eleonora’s images have been published in numerous print and online magazines and blogs. Here’s a short Q&A about her photography:
Please tell me about yourself and your relationship with photography. How do you value education in photography and fine art?
I was born and grew up in 1991 in a small town 20 minutes from Venice. It’s very quiet, not so much going on but it’s kind of comfortable spending some time there.
My relationship with photography is complicated I guess. You know, it’s like having a relationship with the love of your life… it takes a lot of effort.
I wake up in the morning thinking about it and I am obsessed with what I do.
I studied Photography at the Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan and did one semester at the School of Visual Arts in New York as an exchange student; I really enjoyed my time at college. I don’t think education in photography and fine art is necessary, but to me it was a great a way to meet really interesting people and friends. Most of the time it’s very inspiring, and above all I think it really helps when you’re at the beginning of your path. It was a significant period for me and It helped me develop a taste, I had enough time to experiment and learn a lot.
In your photography I prominently found some spaces, places, people, still-life, crumpled bed-sheets, and bananas! Out of these categories (I suppose), what do you like shooting most and what is the genre that you’d like to stick to?
For my projects most of the time I decide what I want to photograph on the way, depending on what I’m trying to say. I don’t like to give myself restrictions or work with any limits of what I should photograph or what I should not.
Other times I take pictures just with the purpose of making a good photograph or because I like what I’m seeing or because it’s significant to me. I really like to photograph sunsets😀
Besides this I like taking pictures of people or at least I like the result. Maybe not so much the time when I’m photographing. I don’t know actually if my subjects are comfortable with me behind the camera because I’m pretty quiet when concentrating, I don’t talk that much and I don’t give many directions for poses or expressions, I like my subjects to be who they want to be in that moment.
What is your current project about? What were your earliest projects like and how do you view your evolution as a photographer?
I’m working on a new body of work but I’m not ready to sell it yet. It’s still at the beginning, it needs to find its identity.
Both “Holes” and “Something is Missing” are studies of human experiences in transitional places and anonymous locations that don’t belong to anyone and in which people don’t recognize themselves because they don’t have any familiar points of reference. The hotel rooms are mostly recently left by the guests, in a place between past and future, with traces of a past moment soon to be erased, just like those who have spent the night there.
In “Welcome Guests” I tried to work on feelings and emotions related to the instability and the chaos of unsettled situations. It’s a collection of pictures I took around United States; documents and letters that I found and things that were given to me and carried with me while travelling.
The experience you are suppose to have with these series is a sense of confusion and dislocation through the representation of mundane and banal actions. There is a picture of a man cutting the grass, people who walk their dogs, a picture of a cup of coffee, one of a diner, a scanning of a picture of a typical American family house.
“Holes” is my earliest body of work and it’s about absence and isolation. Unlike Something is Missing, which is more focused on the human presence. The figures in “Holes” seem absorbed by an impenetrable vacuum, as is the absence of time and temporariness as a universal human condition.
Everything looks slow, static as if it were an ethereal break between the great movement of before and after.
The choice of using a place geographically and temporarily anonymous like motel and hotel bedrooms was born from the necessity of including my and my family’s personal story within my work, which then grew into a reflection about a transitional, precarious and momentary status.
What characteristics of a person, place or environment affect you most?
It’s the unfinished, unresolved and unclassifiable that appeals me. A sense of absence is present in all my pictures.
I mainly use a Canon 5D mark II, a Contax T2, a Mamiya 67 and the iPhone. I work with photoshop and I really miss the darkroom.
I’m not one of those photographers who are equipment or software nerds. It doesn’t make so much of a difference to me if you shoot film or digital, it’s what you point your camera at that makes the difference.
There is one photo that has been significant to me at the beginning of my path and It’s “Chicago, Couple in Bed 1977” by Nan Goldin. Besides that I don’t have a favorite photo, but I have a favorite project and it’s “A Shimmer of Possibility” by Paul Graham. I met him once, we talked for 20 minutes and I didn’t recognize him - We had a nice conversation though.
I think photography is not just photography anymore. The definition of contemporary photography is enlarging, as well as the practice itself which doesn’t mean just taking the picture anymore but it’s becoming more about making the photograph. All of these emerging practices, such as collage and appropriation of images are making photography a very interesting topic and they’re redefining the term itself.
I spend half of my time looking at other people work on the internet and there are a lot of talented people out there that are showing their work on social networks as Instagram or Tumblr because these platforms really work as a showcase. In terms of searching, connecting with people, and showing the work I think social media is a very efficient tool.
As I said before I’m working on something new and I want to make a book when the project is finished.
Recently I got accepted to an important MA photography program but I still don’t know if I’m going to take the offer or not.
I will share some of the artists, writers, books and director that have inspired me a lot in the last period: Paul Graham - Thomas Demand - Andreas Gursky - Raymond Carver - Paul Auster - Susan Sontag - Michelangelo Antonioni - Lars Von Trier - The Allegory of the Cave by Plato - Learning from Las Vegas - The Internet.
Something to say to our readers or aspiring photographers (or say something completely random):
Don’t google your name.