Crina Prida Cluj, Romania
I am a visual artist, with the main interest in fine art and conceptual photography. My photography is aiming to translate human emotions into visual expression; to find a way to materialize ordinary, everyday feelings or thoughts into images. The main body of my photographic work is portraiture, with a balance between dark expressionism and eroticism; the personal history of a woman sometimes makes me work with a model again and again over different periods of time, because I try to uncover the subsiding narrative of their journey in time. My pictures are about life, about stories, about secrets revealed. I am exploring the elusive balance between the tangible subject, and its representation, which I try to keep coherent and meaningful, while still leaving certain parts to the viewer’s imagination.
My photos have been shown in many personal and group exhibitions in Romania, Hungary, Iran, Germany, and published in various online and printed photo magazines.
Crina Prida was chosen by photographer Jean-Daniel Beley
Laatikkomo’s interview with Crina Prida, March 13th, 2015.
L: Where are you from? What cities, and/or countries have you lived in – or what places have influenced you?
CP: I am Romanian, more precisely from Cluj, Transylvania; this is actually the place where I feel “at home” in many ways, although my mind is very much connected to the Mediterranean colors and lifestyle.
L: I am intrigued by the fact that aside being a photographer you are also a dentist, especially since you are not the first dentist/photographer we have come across in Laatikkomo. How does dentistry influence the work you do as a photographer? Or the other way around?
CP: There is nothing special about being a dentist and a photographer! It’s a job that pays the bills, quite remotely connected to art; I seriously doubt it that anyone would be curious to see my dental “before and after” photos… So, I would not say that my job has a direct influence on my photographic activity; it is true though, there are a few things from the medical profession that I’ve borrowed outside work – such as planning, being on time, organizing a photo session within the same guidelines as a medical appointment – with attention to details, sequential approach, communication and simple directions. There is always room for improvisation, I have learned this before dental school, because I have studied art prior to university, but I think that focusing on the story I have in mind when I go out shooting is pretty essential in order to get a predictable result.
L: What is your first memory of photography?
CP: I had to stop and think for a couple of minutes before answering this; I remember that my parents were friends with a guy who was a professional photographer; he made exceptional photos of my mother – she was (still is) a very beautiful woman; I saw these black and white portraits of her when I was a very young girl – and I realized how this medium can bring out beauty in a way that emphasizes the mystery, the less obvious, but does not essentially alter the subject, it just attaches different extensions to what’s available to the eye. Later on, my flirting with drawing, painting, graphics, were more or less rewarding; it is photography that finally got me back to observing life.
L: What is your relationship to analogue versus digital?
CP: I don’t do much analog, due to my limited free time. It’s great to photograph on film, and I would certainly like to try old techniques like wet plate or cyanotypes, but that is for people who are much better managers of their time; I shoot 35mm, and also medium format film now and then, I scan my films and transfer them to digital format, but I don’t do any dark room processing, unfortunately. Digital is great for my conceptual and experimental photos, especially with the (limited) help of editing software; it’s good to have both options at hand though.
L: Your images have a mysterious or dreamy quality about them. It seems you use different effects, like double exposures, reflections, and blurred edges. ?
CP: My answer is: everything goes… yes, I did real double exposures, more than once, on film – either on my own, or as part of several film swaps I did a couple of years ago with a talented woman photographer from Germany. As for digital, I sometimes use textures or various overlays, but I would not say the images are essentially altered (with the minor exception of the phone edited stuff, which I never take quite seriously); I enjoy longer exposures, lensbaby and cheap plastic lens photography, and sometimes using improvised “filters” or effects on my digital lenses (a piece of glass, water or vaseline, cling foil, etc). I am not taking myself seriously as a “photographer”, in the technical sense of the word.
L: Most, if not all of your work focuses on women as the subject. What do you find most surprising or, what continually surprises/intrigues you about women?
CP: Firstly, I AM a woman. All the qualities and flaws of my gender are of interest to me. It’s not the beauty itself (inner or outer), nor “the eye of the beholder”. It is more likely the familiar gestures, concerns, signs and elusive language that make sense when you are part of the group. I’ve been moving back and forth with a series called “A brief history of She”. The more I photographed women of all ages, the more I discovered the exceptions’ as well as the common denominators – in women. It is not the boobs, as some of my followers would probably assume, although those are not negligible at all… it’s never been my intention to emphasize sexuality or gender specific aggressiveness. I suppose that some of my photos are on the verge of erotic or sensual, but frankly, I find it impossible to elude this feature pertaining to human nature – it is personal, it is visible and it is attainable through all the elements of the Visual. Aside that, every woman has a story that remains her own, and putting on an act in front of the camera can reveal more or less of this story; in many cases, their stories meet mine, and therefore I am never bored.
L: In an interview you made with Ontoshiki for Citylab, you talk about your common interest in feminine beauty. Can you describe what feminine beauty means to you?
CP: Ontoshiki is a great photographer. The interview you mention provided my first direct contact with a Japanese photographer and I enjoyed our cross-interview very much; in fact, he inspired me to think about nude and erotic photography in a new (less…European) way. Less academic, if you want, and more expressive, both in composition/posing and emotion. Feminine beauty – well, I have said it in other interviews already, I like the strong, raw expression of the feminine as seen through a cinematic approach. It doesn’t matter what you photograph (which woman, in my case), as long as there is a story to tell. I don’t care about the pose, makeup and body size, I care about the movement and the way the model communicates through their five (maybe six, heh) senses. Sometimes we talk, even shout, or on the contrary we work in complete silence. Sometimes it is about the touch – the fabric, the natural elements. All this is beautiful. What is not beautiful is to spend 4 hours putting makeup and having your hair done, only to come over and ask ‘what shall I do with my arms?’, or ‘please, can you remove my cellulite from the photos’…
L: How do you find your subjects, and what is your relationship to your subjects? – Is that relationship important to how you photograph your subjects?
CP: Some of my models are students, a few were my patients at first, and I asked them to model for me; I was lucky enough to work with a few Romanian actresses, who are amazing models; finally, a number of models are my personal friends. I have worked with professional models as well, mostly for certain commissioned projects, but I am not too particular about using professional models.. If a session works out well and the model enjoys what we do, there is a big chance we’ll meet again for future sessions.
L: Your images seem to be about more than just beauty. Do you think your work holds a message about the politics of current society?
CP: Huh, absolutely not. I don’t care about politics at all; if there is a vague feminist statement in some of my work, that might be related to my rather rebel, nonconformist personality. That said, I am all in favor of a strong statement from any artist, regardless of gender or political belief, as long as it provokes and strikes a chord without the pathetic dangling towards hypocrisy and fake trends. I’m not happy to use quotes, but this short phrase from Susan Sontag sums up what I have to say about art in general – “Language is never innocent”.
L: Could you list 5 (or more) words that you were thinking about when you made this work (shown in Laatikkomo)?
CP: “I’ve never seen your face” – is a project that focuses on the lack of individuality in the plot of a given story. It’s as if the story remains to be figured out, although the teller has almost left the stage. In five words?
Five, four, three, two, one…. gone!
Thank you so much Crina!