An Interview With: Sara Cuono

Who are you and where did you study?

I am Sara and I am about to graduate from University of Westminster with a BA (Hons) in Photographic Arts. 

What is your artist statement for the body of work “While We Wait“?

What at first glance seems to be a mere photographic record of the urban landscape, is on a deeper level a meditation on the idea of waiting, as a metaphor of life.

‘While We Wait’ has no truth or certainties to reveal - uneventful scenarios keep the viewer waiting for that something that never happens.

Where did the project develop from?

What began as a concrete journey through my native Italy in the summer of 2015 somehow evolved into a thorough exploration of my art practice; the photobook "While We Wait" is a result of that journey; of forty days, countless trains, a backpack, a camera and many rolls of film. 

What started as photographic record of the urban landscape, then became a meditation on the idea of waiting as a metaphor of life. In order to express my message, I decided to pair the photographs with a poem in prosewhich I wrote drawing inspiration from my repeated exposure to these photographs.  I then decided to divide it into smaller sections thatseparate  the book into six chapters , aiming to bring greater attention to  the words and the details depicted in the photographs. 

Colour seems to be very important in this project, do you think it would of worked as well in black and white?

Indeed, colour is essential to this project, which is why I don’t think it would have worked as well in black and white. Colour was as important as subject matter when it came to building the pairings between images; early morning light, the golden hour, reflections on the sea surface, shadow games wouldn’t have been depicted in the same without their colour.

What genre do you consider your work to be?

I always struggle when I am asked to define or label my work; I don’t think I could situate it within a specific genre. “While We Wait” is a really personal book consisting of photographs and text. The prose poem for instance is the result of a deep excavation and I am sure it helped looking at some lonely and melancholy photographs of the country I still call home.

How did you work when shooting this series?

Since I was shooting analog, I didn’t know what the final outcome was going to be until I was finally able to develop all the rolls of film. Before setting off I didn’t make any plans, I didn’t have any specific ideas of how the project was going to turn out. I ended up with more than a thousand images, and the editing was the most beautiful and, at the same time, painful process. It was at that time that I began to write. To be honest,  "While We Wait" grew as a result of looking at so many empty and uneventful images.

Some of your images used are of foreign countries, did this play any part in your aim?

All my photographs were taken in Italy, and yes, it did play a major part in the building of the book. Looking back at the photographs I shot whilst travelling, I wasn’t expecting to find such lonely, silent and melancholic landscapes. The fact that my subconscious made me frame the surroundings in such way made me realise that maybe I was bound to use those photographs not in a documentary way but in a more poetic one.

Technical how did you shoot the images?

All photographs in "While We Wait" are shot on 35 mm film, on a second hand camera my father bought in the early 2000s. To be honest, I didn’t focus on the technical aspect too much; I was always on the move, on and off trains that had no air conditioning in 40 degree heat. I was visiting almost one city every day so I was walking as many streets as I could, trying to not miss out on anything. When I finally went through them, I did notice that I wasted some possibly good shots. But that didn’t matter too much; I knew from the start that during this kind of trip I could focus too much on technical aspects. What was most important for me was to look around as much as I could.

What are your plans for the future?

I am currently writing my dissertation and working. I plan to finish my degree and hopefully start working on a new project soon. My dream is to work on/with photobooks, both in publishingand my own. But we will see what the future holds for me.

What is the best piece of advice you could give the viewers of The Pupil Sphere?

Don't be afraid of spending time on your own. But, most importantly, don't be afraid of loving being on your own. Great things come out of solitude.


All images copyright of Sara Cuono.