An Interview With: Giulia Parlato

 

Who are you and where did you study?

I am a Sicilian photographer and I’ve recently graduated from the London College of Communication. 

Firstly, thank you for sharing your great project. Could you introduce us to the work with a brief statement?

Isola formed around the idea of narrating, like in a travel journal, a fictional voyage from an adventurer's perspective; from approaching an imaginary island to venturing into its core.
My journey of twenty-five days through the mediterranean sea, started after a rereading of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's Lighea and Homer's Odyssey, focusing particularly on Ulysses adventures across the south of Italy. When I decided to plan my own route, I was ultimately inspired by the tales my father used to tell me. All of these stories were based on Ferdinandea, which was a small Sicilian island that rose from the water in 1831 and then disappeared again underwater (to lie just below the surface) in 1832. Isola is not a specific place and it does not belong to a specific time. Impenetrable, it exists only in images.

Because your work explores ideas of 'Home' it seems fitting to ask you where you consider home and what was your experience of studying in the UK?

I still don’t know exactly what home is for me and where to find it. Sometimes it seems to be in people’s faces rather than in a particular place. However, literature and art have often tried to depicted men desire for yearned-for islands and idyllic places. I think I like to reflect on how these two elements (relationships and spaces) are linked together. Talking about my experience as a student, I am really grateful to my tutors and my colleagues for what I’ve learned through these years. I loved my course and I think I’ve realized how useful it was only now that it is finished. I was very lucky to be part of this. However, I find leaving in London sometimes really stressful. A lot of people move there because they think they will achieve their goals immediately but you really need to stay focused and devoted to your own work to do so.

 
 

You have utilised multiple photographic styles in the body of work, a mixture of colour and black and white. Furthermore, combining the graphic shapes of the rock with a gentle human figure. How do you ensure these different photographs work together harmoniously? 

Well, first of all there is an esthetic continuity in terms of patterns and shapes. The color images included refer to the same martian-like atmosphere by always reflecting back to the same color tones. The human figures also often recall the shapes of the surrounding nature. Moreover, the small objects I have photographed, are souvenirs collected from the places I’ve been exploring during the project.

How did your experience of the places you encountered live up to the tales you have researched and stories told by your father? 

They do because my father’s tales were all based around the mediterranean sea and he was always taking inspiration from places he knew about. Talking about the stories I have researched, in both the Odyssey and the Professor and the Siren, the authors describe very specific places which actually exist. I simply went to those places.

 
 

Your work prompted me to do some research into Ferdinandea. I understand how you can be captivated by such a subject. Do you think this is a theme that you will return to in future?

Yes, I believe the material I have found, both historical and fictional, prepare the ground for a new project I will probably work on during my MA and which will focus once more on idea of the island, but as an actual object.

Will you be taking 'Isola' further into an exhibition or publication?

I’ve already made a dummy book and I was thinking of applying for fundings to make an actual publication and yes, it would be lovely to have an exhibition. I’m trying but it is still work-in progress. From one hand, I would rather wait until I have a new project, from the other, maybe it is a shame not to take this opportunity. We’ll see!

What would be your best advice to our readers that are graduating shortly?

If you are thinking about applying for an MA, take a gap year to think carefully about your future and try to do whatever you wanted to when you didn’t have the time because you were a student. By a gap year I don’t mean “Don’t do anything”. What I mean is read, photograph without an assignment, take a job offer, learn to do something new, travel! All of these things will enrich your vision and you will be able to start your MA with a fresh mind and above all SOMETHING NEW TO TELL.

If you are not thinking about applying for an MA, take the gap year anyways. We are young. Who cares.