Italian photographer Alessandra Calò presents, at the Festival Circulation(s), her series Kochan. A hybrid work, where drawing meets photography to form a poetic and intimate exploration. Interview.

Fisheye : When did you know you wanted to be a photographer?

Alessandra Calò: I have always been passionate about photography. I never had an epiphany about it. This medium has always been a way to keep my memories. I entered the art world by myself, without attending any art schools. I love discovering new ways of communicating, and photography enabled me to explore new directions. Today, I define myself as an “image creator” more than a photographer.

What kinds of images to you like creating?

There is one common theme that links all my works: memory. To me, memory is a state of mind linked to reality, and not just a feeling of nostalgia reminding us of the past. In my photos, I try to highlight an emotion, without outlining it specifically.

Could you tell us more about your series Kochan?

In this project, I worked on a journey. The journey everyone takes to assert themselves. I present the body as a territory to explore. A trek which can be hard, because of the complex relationship one has with their body.

The title came from a book, called Confessions of a Mask, by Jukio Mishima. A book I have always liked. The author used parts of his diary to narrate the long journey of Kochan – the protagonist – to discover his identity and his body.

How did you get the idea to work with maps?

I started this project in 2016, when I discovered that the New York Public Library had put a large part of its archives online. I spent entire days discovering maps, manuscripts, letters… I was so fascinated that I decided to add them to my work, and to combine them with a series of self portraits.

Why choosing to combine those two materials?

Working with documents enabled me to create new universes and to tell new stories. It was also a trip into the photographic image. My goal is to immerse the audience into those narratives, as if they were watching a film, or reading a book. Kochan’s maps helped me contextualise the story, and take the public into a specific imaginary world: a journey into intimacy.

And into our memories as well?

The whole project came from body’s memory. It is a path we all have to follow, while listening to the signs our bodies send us, to tell a story. An almost imperceptible feeling. Kochan is a personnal journey, my way of talking about my past, about things lost or forgotten. This is the reason why I chose to be the actress of my work.

Were self portraits inevitable?

Yes. It was a choice to appear in front of the camera. I am naked in the photos, I am myself: a physical and intellectual presence, without any artifice. For the first time, I am the subject of my own research. I was inspired by a time in my life where I was more carefree. I tried to observe what had happened in me, and not around me.

What role plays the body, in Kochan?

It goes beyond its material form. It tries to become something universal. Kochan could even be a research around the concept of “genre” – if genres even exist. I wanted to detach myself from stereotypes, from rules. To be free of my decisions. My body drifts in this territory, it follows its own directions.


© Alessandra Calo