Raom&Loba La Villeneuve au Châtelot, France
Raom was born in 1962, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Loba was born in 1972, in Paris, France. Raom & Loba formed a duo and have been working together since 1998. Their work has been shown in numerous exhibitions in France, Belgium, South Korea, Australia, Argentina, USA and Colombia. The LANDscapeING series was exhibited in Buenos Aires and Paris, and will soon be shown in Bogota (Colombia) and Lyon (France). They live and work in La Villeneuve au Châtelot in the Champagne region of France.
Raom&Loba were chosen by Colombian Photographer Carolina Montejo
Laatikkomo’s interview with Raom&Loba October 3rd, 2013
Where are you from? (What cities, and/or countries have you lived in – or what places have influenced you?)
Raom: I was born in Buenos Aires in Argentina. It’s a great big city and that is where I grew up. I am imbued by the culture of my country and I love its creativity and dynamic energy, which is also heavily influenced by European culture. Coming to Europe was one of my earliest dreams, and my arrival in France, in 1995, radically transformed my vision and my work.
Loba: I was born in Paris in a very creative family who gave me an appetite for work, for invention and exploration, and ultimately for collaboration too. At the age of 7 or 8, I discovered in myself, a strange attraction for South America, especially for Argentina. I have no rational explanation for this.
What is your earliest memory/ies of photography?
Raom: My first memory about photography is when I was 12, at that time I had a Kodak Instamatic and I took black and white photos of an old factory in my neighborhood, I tried to do something artistic, to work with contrasts between light and shadow. I was not totally convinced and a few years later I devoted myself entirely to painting. So to say, that it was much, much later that I came back to photography as a way to make my compositions freely, but just as carefully constructed as my paintings.
Loba: Mine is about pictures that I had made in the 80s, with a Kodak-Disc. These images were completely off but they fascinated me, I often looked them, they really had a lot of grain and looked like pointillist paintings, very soft images, diffused and quite mysterious. That’s when I told to myself that the camera lens could be very subjective.
You are both individual artists, but since 1999(?) you have worked together as Raom&Loba. How have your individual productions changed since the formation of Raom&Loba?
Raom: Basically our work didn’t really change … it has improved. Its appearance has changed. We managed to share and translate our desires through this collaboration. But it took us some time to adjust and find the balance… And today we progress together according to our means and new opportunities given by our discoveries.
Loba: in fact since 1998 we have worked together exclusively —although we did some experiments a little before— and from that moment, we decided not to have an individual practice anymore. We become a new artist at that time, because we started from scratch together, combining our strengths.
Even though your images portray picture perfect landscapes and carefully staged scenes in nature, there are small clues that turn my imagination towards everything that is not seen in your images. What is your relationship to nature? And to Nature vs. Technology?
Raom: We love nature. We can observe it, think about the mystery of its existence, about the wide diversity of its forms … and make some good pictures. But we also love little stories and we often use Nature as a framework, as a background. We intentionally introduce a character or object into the landscape to start creating a story. But this story is also inspired by the landscape.
Loba: I do not think there is any real “rivalry” between nature and technology, technology advances in its more or less successful attempts to emulate or tame nature, but, for example, the “perfect” photo does not exist and will never replace a direct observation of the world with our two eyes open. What we do with our images is possible through technology, and cannot be observed directly. Because it does not capture reality, only the realization of our inner part of unreality. (dreams, fears, hopes, memories).
Do you consider your work as political?
Raom: Maybe, it depends on what angle you are looking from, there are several levels of reading and interpretation if you want … but the politics that are generally in question are an invention of modern man and we aspire to something less reductive, more spiritual.
Loba: politics in general otherwise, if you want a closer look, everything we do can be politics in that it addresses the other and that is a form of reaction from our inner being to its external environment (society)
This series showing children in landscape (hinting at a kind of dystopia) reminds me of William Golding’s novel “The Lord of the Flies”. Is your work inspired by literature or other art forms?
Raom: I have not read this book, but I saw some pictures of a film adaptation. Honestly, I’m not big on reading, I’d rather like visual things, since my childhood I watch a lot of movies, I love old thriller movies, and science fiction a lot, even the Series B from U.S. that flooded the small screen in Argentina and my childhood. Surely this has helped shape my imagination and still inspires me …
Loba: I know this book, I read it when I was a child. It might be a “dark” side. It is difficult to have a complete vision of the entire LANDscapeING series through a few images. I think LANDscapeING is a much more positive proposal. In this it is not at all an information or manifestion (utopia or dystopia do not apply to me), and if we fight for something it would be for the defence of dreams and the protection of a right to innocence and a certain naiveté. This is very serious. It becomes very difficult for many people to really look at something without looking evil. It is a kind of disease of many adults drowned in cynicism and gloom.
Could you list 5(or more) words you were thinking about when you made this work?
Raom: Hope, new world, empty head, aesthetic, archetypes, open-mind, end.
Loba: Fiction, openness, exploration, unknown, starting …
What is one of the most important questions that you ask, or would like to inspire others to ask, through your photographs?
Raom: The mystery … the incognito, with love we cultivate the mystery, it is like a good medicinal plant, it grows well .. and it is very good for health.
Loba: in our images, we try to highlight things that are difficult to photograph in itself, especially by capturing reality. Very specific internal aspects of human nature. Fiction and narrative are among the tools we use to get there. I love that people project themselves in our images reaching to the point of sincerely ask these questions and consider to see the world this way.
Thank you so much!