Fabiola Cedillo Cuenca, Ecuador
Fabiola Cedillo Crespo is Ecuadorian sculptor and photographer. She is currently studying psychology as part of a long distance course. In 2013 she was one of the photographers selected for the PA-TA-TA 2013 Festival in Granada. She was selected by Patry Remy to participate in a residency at the Festival de Photographie de Deauville and the exhibition of work at La jourèe at “PLANCHE(s) CONTACT ” in 2013, France. Her work was selected for the photography festival, Encontros da Imagen in Braga. She was also a finalist for the PRIX LE BAL of Talents jeunes creation photographique in 2013, France. Last year she won the 2015 Fondos Concursables in Plastic Arts at the Ministry of Culture and Heritage of Ecuador. Through this prize she has made her first self-publication, the book, Los mundos de Tita.
Fabiola Cedillo was chosen by photographer Stefania Figuccia
Laatikkomo’s interview with Fabiola Cedillo August 16th, 2017.
L: Where are you from? What cities, and/or countries have you lived in – or what places have influenced you?
FC: I am from Cuenca, Ecuador. When I was 19 I moved to Madrid. I wanted to finish my psychology studies but I ended up studying sculpture, artistic photography and artistic education. There is not much art education in Ecuador. My initial steps towards art, when I was a teenager, came from an oil painting class which was very focused on technique. I used to draw very realistic paintings, like photographs, but I did not continue because I lost my interest, while thinking in 3D, sculpture, was a real passion.
After studying artistic photography, which was mainly lots of hours of studio lighting and dark rooms, I learned about BlankPaper and I did a photo-journalism course, after which I did a course on developing photographic projects and I started to take lots of street pictures. In 2012 I moved to London and I think it was there where photography became my companion and I gave it the importance it has today. I spent a lot of time alone, I did no know anyone and photography was my only excuse to approach people. After that I moved to Amsterdam in The Netherlands, one of the countries which has made me dream the most. Despite the climate not being as good as in Ecuador or Spain, Amsterdam is full of colour and such big, free and open artistic activity like I have never seen before. While I was trying to settle in Amsterdam, Fosi, BlankPaper’s director granted me a scholarship and thanks to that I was able to complete a master’s degree in author photography, this brought me back to Madrid. That master course changed my life, after that many things, which I had never imagined before, happened, not necessarily related with the photography itself but rather with the subjects that I photograph. In the beginning it felt like I was lost, just taking pictures, for no reason, but gradually I was more and more conscious about what was happening in front of the camera, as well as in my mind and heart.
My last stop, before coming back to my home town, was Barcelona. Barcelona has a very special light, it has everything. During this time I worked as a photographer for a magazine and for publicity. I did not make my own photographs, it was a strange time… I think the city where I am does not influence my mood too much, since what matters the most is what is happening within; my relations with family, friends, partner and with the things I constantly ask myself.
Now that I am back in Cuenca, I realise why I like Amsterdam so much; Cuenca has four rivers running through it and water is a constant presence. The city is full of trees and it’s small enough to be walked or cycled across. In Amsterdam I felt at home.
This year I opened a photography school and dark room in Cuenca, it’s called AULA. In Cuenca, almost no one does analogue photography anymore, no one develops film and it’s really hard to find photographic materials, thus, in April, I decided to open a laboratory and courses aimed towards documentary photography. Cuenca is a very conservative city, photography is still seen as something that only goes with design or publicity, not really to document anything.
L: What is your earliest memory of photography?
FC: To see an actual image emerge in the development tray in a dark room.
L: The series shown on your website have very different styles, other than the fact that some are in colour and some in black and white, they also vary in the usage of different light sources: some are soft natural light, some are taken at night with slow shutter speed and some are taken with a flash. This series uses a hard light source, like that of a flash. What elements determine your choice of film and/or light source?
FC: I should start with apologising for my website, which I have not updated in a while. As for my projects; yes, I do have many projects with different techniques and styles. I have always used film. The school I was in provided many laboratory hours. In the beginning I shot using a very simple 35mm camera, with B&W film. I was mainly experimenting and getting to know the medium. I then switched to medium format and started to get colour film but these where always expired films, from rare brands… I guess I kept experimenting as photography was not as important as it is today.
I paid a lot of attention to the light, I liked dusks and dawns, to take portraits of people on the street, the streets themselves, objects. This was the time I was living in London. I did not have too much money then so I just had my films developed at pretty much any shop, not caring about quality. When I went back to Madrid I used to walk a lot at night, always with my camera in my bag, I knew some pictures would be good and some other not, the end result was not my main goal but rather the experiences I was able to live through my camera. Many films got damaged. Some of my photographs have very intense and strange colours, this was mainly due to buying any film and developing them as colour film. In one instance, a machine got stuck with my film and it developed two steps over the same film. Some of those pictures are in my book; never throw away an “error”.
Anyway, as I said before, I used to walk a lot at night, and for this reason I decided to purchase a flash, old, second hand, and I always had it with me when I knew I could eventually take an indoors picture or something during the night. I used to carry my Hasselblad with me and -as you can imagine- it is very difficult to focus at night, so all of those shots were either going to be good or bad. Randomness was always present during those times.
I feel that both, the flash and the natural light, contribute something to what each picture has to tell and also to the general narration. For example, in the book “Los mundos de TITA”, with Tita, my sister, being the main character in this project, those pictures taken with a flash make me think that perhaps she, having epilepsy, sees and remembers moments of her life like that; when she is going though a seizure she only remembers parts of what is going on and just like a quickly flashing memory. Perhaps in a similar way to us remembering our dreams or nightmares, images which we don’t know are real or part of our imagination.
Presently, I am taking a lot of photographs using 35mm film and a old compact camera I won when I was a teenager. Most of these pictures are taken in automatic mode, at night, at parties. In this project focus and framing don’t really matter too much, what matters it taking a picture exactly when the action happens. This comes also from the fact that there are not many places where a film can be developed in my city, which means that most likely I will get a dirty, dusty or scratched film back from the lab. I guess you can’t have it all in life… [laughs]. Also, on other occasions, I buy my film overseas and then I develop it myself in the school’s (AULA) lab. Ultimately I would like to overcome this barriers and be able to photograph whatever I like in colour and whatever I like in B&W, because they are two very different things and mediums.
Lately I am taking a lot of studio photography, I am trying a different way of documenting, and I hope I will soon be able to upload some of this work to my blog -http://fabiolacedillo.tumblr.com- and website.
L: Through your images it seems you are telling the story of a place or a specific moment over that of a person. What is your relationship to these places and how do you choose them?
FC: “Los mundos de TITA” is the result of three years worth of photography. I always wandered with the same camera, I took pictures of what I did not want to forget, of the places that triggered a feeling, the people that were important for me, despite some of them being strangers. The entire process was very organic, completely free, I never thought those pictures would result in this project. Perhaps it was my subconsciousness guiding me; pictures were taken in London, Lisbon, Cuenca, Amsterdam, Madrid… Wherever I went I took my camera with me and, as it would seem, I was always talking about the same thing.
It was not any particular place but rather my state of mind, places can exist in any given city. I was telling a story about myself, my memories, my dreams, my fears and I knew that I needed a main character, in this case my sister, to better connect the images. My sister is very important to me and I also wanted to talk about her syndrome and show her portraits to the whole world.
L: Beyond being a window into your vision of time/place, do you have a specific, more hidden story or message to communicate through your photographs?
Every project and image has its own meaning and it changes based on the spectator, perhaps it’s that something dark within each one of us and it just surfaces when they see my photographs. For me, it’s an archive about myself.
I think many people can see my images and identify themselves in them, regardless of them being from my country and culture or not.
With “Los mundos de TITA” I want to expose my sister’s syndrome, as well as the possibility of living different realities or fantasies beyond intellect, culture, age, gender and so forth. There is something that that binds us, something deep within, something that makes us humans. Through this images I have realised that things are not always as bad as we think they are, but they are also not as good as we think they are. I just want to show a little bit about how life has presented itself to me; sometimes in colour, sometimes in black, sometimes dark, unfair, funny, absurd, ironic, just like a black comedy.
L: Could you list five or more words related to the work you are showing in Laatikkomo?
The Lennox-Gastaut’s syndrome
Dreams & nightmares
Thank you so much Fabiola!!