Alejandra Laviada Mexico City, Mexico
Alejandra Laviada (b.1980) lives and works in Mexico City. Her work explores photography’s shifting role and relationship to other artistic media, such as painting and sculpture. The images emerge from the intersections between these different mediums, and aim to question and redefine photography’s various roles and boundaries.
For each project, Alejandra occupies a different site that is in the process of being completely demolished or redeveloped. She photographs her interventions in these spaces, and works only with the objects she finds in each place. The images alter our conception of everyday objects, and reflect a city in transition, struggling to reconcile past and future histories.
Where are you from? What cities, and/or countries have you lived in – or what places have influenced you?
AL: I’m from Mexico City, and growing up here has had a strong impact on my work and aesthetic. I lived in USA several years during college and grad school, and each of these experiences had a tremendous impact on my professional development as a photographer, but nevertheless my projects were always conceived in Mexico or had some connection being raised here.
I also love to travel, and I think there is inspiration in every place and every experience we encounter.
What is your earliest memory of photography?
AL: Borrowing my mother’s camera and feeling a sense of responsibility and empowerment.
The composition of your images is very controlled; the colour composition, shapes and forms are physically compiled and constructed. Do you give yourself rules and/or perimeters to work within when you enter a new space/project?
AL: Yes, whenever I start a new project or am working in a new space, I give myself a set of rules that I abide to. For example, in Photo Sculptures, I only wanted to work with the objects I found in a particular site and not bring anything else to the space. When I’m constructing these ephemeral sculptures, I’m not allowed to use nails or tape or anything else… I simply play with the weight and forms of these objects against each other and the laws of gravity.
Colour and composition are important elements in my work, and that probably comes from my background as a painter. I’m always very conscious of how I can construct a new image on my photographic canvas, and most shots are usually carefully set up and arranged.
Although your images can be compared to formal abstract painting, our recognition of re-purposed objects and the delicate balance of your constructions give your images a playful energy. Do you have specific stories you want to tell about different spaces?
AL: I think each space has its own history, and each object develops its own personality through time. I try to bring out these characteristics through my photographs by altering our perception of these ordinary objects/spaces/situations and transforming them into something else entirely. Through the images they seem to acquire a new function and narrative.
I’m not interested in telling a single story, but each project seems to be a new chapter in an ongoing narrative about the ephemeral nature of things vs. photography’s role in immortalizing them. My interventions on these objects/spaces, the relationship between photography and other artistic media, and the passage of time/temporality, are all recurring elements throughout my work and practice.
Your images are made in/from/out of abandoned buildings about to be demolished or renovated. Is your work an ode to the past life of a now condemned space?
AL: I’m interested in the transitional stage of things, a particular fleeting moment that is neither past nor future, but rather a strange in-between stage… I tend to look for spaces that embody this ephemeral moment, focusing on the transformation and not the nostalgia.
Would you be interested in working with new buildings, structures or other spaces currently in use?
AL: Not really. What I find appealing is the transformation that occurs in cities and urban centers, how the old gets replaced by the new in an endless cycle, and how the new becomes old very quickly. It’s less about the spaces themselves and more about the transition that occurs between these cycles, or my own fleeting interventions.
Could you list 5 (or more) words that you were thinking about when you made this work?
AL: I think I need to briefly explain what this body of work is about first… for De-Constructions I wanted to create a series of images of (and about) the destruction of a space. I was working in a site scheduled for demolition, and decided to contribute to its destruction by breaking holes on the walls of each room and photographing the abstract forms of the holes against the flat planes of colour of the adjacent rooms. My intervention consisted in constructing an image out of the destruction of the space. I’ve always found there is a certain beauty to be found in destruction, and wanted to somehow highlight this duality through the images.
So now… fewer words to describe the project:
Part of the Laatikkomo project asks the artists to choose the next photographer in their link of photographers. What qualities are you looking for in the artist you will choose, what criteria will guide your choice?
AL: Originality, nationality, and most importantly someone who I admire and whose work has had an impact on my own practice.
Thank you so much Alejandra, we look forward to seeing where your link will take us.