THIS MONTH REDMILK FOR ITS ISSUE DEDICATED TO BEAUTY INTERVIEWED WRITER AND PHOTOGRAPHER SHANNON MAY POWELL. AUSTRALIAN BUT BASED IN BERLIN WITH HER WORK LEADS US TO EXPLORE THE INTIMACY AND INTERACTION BETWEEN PEOPLE AND PLACES. WITH HER PHOTOGRAPHS SHOWS US THE CONCEPT OF BEAUTY AND SEXUALITY BOTH EMOTIONALLY AND SPIRITUALLY.
What are your distinctive traits?
Very curious, pretty mellow and I like to finish things that I start.
Tell us something about your artistic background:
I studied creative writing and philosophy at University, this informs a lot of the work that I produce now. I like to explore symbolism in my images and the way two images can play off one another to create story and meaning. I picked up a camera by chance, although I have always been sensitive to visual impressions in cinema. I think my background in writing and poetry helps me to create a visual language that is more subtle and abstract than word based story telling.
The concept of “beauty” today: as time goes by, do you think that in photography the concept of beauty has been gradually become ? If yes, how much did social networks influenced this endorsement process in the contemporary society?
Yes I think the superficial aspects of beauty have been defined by images we see in the media and this aesthetic definition saturates our social media. For a long time this aesthetic has not been diverse in any sense. However I am seeing a positive shift in contemporary society towards redefining beauty as something less homogenous and more diverse. We have a long way to go, but there are some important artists out there shifting this perspective for good.
Your photos are striking for their intimate view. How important is the intimacy in your work?
Intimacy is very important to me. I struggle to connect with anything or anyone that I put energy into if I cannot create an intimate relationship. My photography is rarely about pure aesthetics. There is always an idea or feeling behind the moment captured. I only shoot people and places that I feel a strong connection with.
Beyond of the body representation, which are the subjects or themes that you propose with continuity?
I will continue exploring landscapes, both urban and natural and of course to examine the people that inhabit these spaces. I am attracted to photographing places that are foreign to me. Photography for me is a kind of anthropological excursion into aesthetics. So the more unfamiliar the place the better, this always inspires curiosity and creativity, which is born from the desire to understand the unfamiliar.
Which icons have influenced your career?
To be honest I don’t have any icons from the discipline of photography. I get most of my inspiration from books, particularly abstract and poetic literature that evokes a sensual atmosphere.
How would you describe your art to someone who doesn’t know you?
I would describe my work as a sensory exploration into territories both foreign and familiar. The perspective I shoot from fluctuates between intimacy and alienation. I try to capture the point where these two polarities collide.
A film, a book and a song that could represent your concept of beauty:
Film – Andrei Tarkowski, Solaris
Book – Clarice Lispector, Água Viva
Song – Kelan Phil Cohran and Legacy – White Nile