Frame 61

Ioustini Drakoulakou

Frame 61
Ioustini Drakoulakou
 

“…through the use of a cinematic approach I aimed to transform the space, where each image takes place, into a more fictional one.”

 

Interview by: Isabel Sachs

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? Where did you study?

I was born and raised in Thessaloniki, Greece. In 2007 I started my academic studies in the Department of Geology at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. After completing my BSc, I continued with postgraduate studies in Mineral Resources and Environment in the same department. Contemporaneously, I was exploring several artistic mediums in order to find what suits me best. Art has been a part of my everyday life since childhood and I was trying to find the field that is most compatible with my personality by experimenting in multiple artistic sectors such as painting, collage, music, dance and photography. In 2015, I decided to enrol myself in the Stereosis School of Photography (Thessaloniki). After the completion of the six-semester course there, I decided to further develop my knowledge and skills in photography, with a postgraduate degree. Eventually, and with the constant support of my family and friends, I am currently completing my MA in photography at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Your series "inertia" fluctuates between documenting reality and creating fiction. How do you create the images? Do you have a set idea from the start or is the process more fluid?

When I was creating “Inertia” series, I would initially imagine my pictures, then I would write or sketch my ideas on a piece of paper and afterwards I would find the place, the person or the object that suited the need of each one of them. Every aspect of each element (characters and their positions, location, objects, lighting), in most of “Inertia” pictures, is the result of meticulous direction. Extensive research was involved in order to find the precise moment to orchestrate these scenarios; I looked for that moment when everything coincided exactly with my intentions. I worked only with people familiar to me. Working together brought us all closer and eventually made us a team. It was like we were re-enacting our childhood games when we played different roles and through this process, we were transferred into another reality.

Inertia,   Untitled 2017

Inertia, Untitled 2017

Inertia, Untitled 2018

Inertia, Untitled 2018

Inertia, Untitled 2018

Inertia, Untitled 2018

In inertia, you mention that the experience of limbo due to any “sudden incident” in the course of one’s life, is the pivotal stone where my image narrative is based. Where does this inspiration come from? Are there any autobiographical traits?

The series “Inertia” is dedicated to a personal experience that was very important to me. It originated from a long-lasting and constant questioning on the element of instability that life could often have. An unexpectedly sudden loss of a beloved person that occurred when I was at the age of 18 has been the cornerstone for my drive to create this series. It was my need to draw attention to the emotional state that people experience while they pass into a new reality due to unpredictable events and question the notion of stability as an illusion of temporary safety.

Tell us a bit about how you spend your day/studio routine? What is your studio like?

My everyday life is quite different here in London compared to the one I had in Thessaloniki. However, some things remain similar. My day starts with a cup of coffee, cigarettes and my laptop. On most days, I keep busy with multiple tasks and photography is always a big part of my routine. This year I was attending my MA in photography and electronic arts. It was a significantly creative period since I was learning and working on something new almost on a daily basis. Thus far, my studio has always been in my home. In fact, my house looks more like a studio than the other way round! I experiment a lot with materials as well as subjects for the creation of new photographs or moving images, and you can find those as well as prints, books and notes scattered everywhere in my home.

Inertia, Untitled 2018

Inertia, Untitled 2018

Inertia, Untitled 2018

Inertia, Untitled 2018

Inertia, Untitled 2017

Inertia, Untitled 2017

What was your first contact with photography? Was there a moment when you decided to be a photographer?

I have been photographing since I was in high school. Back then I was using a 35mm film camera which I still use for some of my images. In 2015, while attending my MSc course, I was given my first DSLR camera as a gift and I started photographing constantly. It was at that moment when I realised that photography would be the creative outlet of my choosing. I was using it as a tool of expression and it was also the best companion in order to spend a day by myself and with other people likewise. After this period, for me was a one-way street to focus on photography. Its nature is that one can create with or without the involvement of others. This is a quality I personally need since I prefer to be given multiple options on the creative process, and I enjoy moving between solitude and sociability and vice versa.

What equipment do you use to create your work now?

Since August 2018 I have been working mainly with analogue medium format colour photography. However, I have been also using a 35mm film camera, a full-frame DSLR as well as my mobile phone. I wanted to use various mediums and allow as well as challenge myself to try to develop a coherent body of work that has no boundaries with regards to the medium and techniques. Additionally, I have been making animation and cinematography pieces and experimenting a lot with their post-production. The process required is something that I am really enjoying whilst at the same time has been very important to the development of a different perspective on my understanding of photography.

You have quite a cinematic approach to light, it tends to be very focused on a particular subject. What is the intention behind it (if any)?

In “Inertia” I captured everyday moments and through the use of a cinematic approach I aimed to transform the space, where each image takes place, into a more fictional one. The duality that the experience of limbo involves is visually interpreted through the combination of reality and a cinematic (fictional) lighting. The fact that specific elements of each image are focused through the lighting, expresses my intention for each of these subjects to become the main characters in the narrative of the photograph.

Inertia, Untitled 2018

Inertia, Untitled 2018

Inertia, Untitled 2018

Inertia, Untitled 2018

Is there anything new and exciting in the pipeline you would like to tell us about?

I have been working on a new photography series which was inspired by my research on the characteristics and the history of the turquoise gemstone as part of my MSc thesis. Turquoise gemstone is a distinctive mineral that has a changeable nature, thus a variety of myths and superstitions have been created around it since ancient times. The production of the images was accomplished through the use of multiple techniques and mediums. Furthermore, throughout this year I have been collaborating for the creation of a documentary short film which will be screened at “The International La DiXième Latino Docs, November 2019”, in Toulouse, France.

This short film makes visible the forgotten part of the history, when people from Asia, America and Africa were brought to the Crystal Palace Museum (London, U.K) in order to be exhibited in ethnographic exhibitions (which are nowadays known as “human zoos”), whilst at the same time disrupts the architectural space where those people were exhibited. The outcome is the product of in-depth research on the subject that was done from the artivist and member of the Chilean collective “El Regreso de lxs Espíritus” Jorge Lucero Díaz, who is also the director and the performer of the film. Antonio Lara is in charge of the audio production and I am in charge of the video shooting, direction of photography and postproduction of the audio-visual footage.

ioustinidrakoulakou.com
@iou_d

All images are courtesy of the artist
Publish date: 21/08/19