Ahead of exhibiting at the fifth edition of PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai, we spoke to Margot Errante on her series Transitions. Through the series, Errante reflects upon the notions of time and space, on the eve of a major life transition.
Errante will be exhibited with Novalis Contemporary Art, a Hong Kong-based gallery, specialising in local and international contemporary photography.
Can you tell us a bit about how the idea for your series Transitions came?
On the eve of a major life transition — my departure from China after twenty years — I reflect upon the notions of time and space, on the impact they have on our self-perception and the feelings engendered by change. We all depart at some point in life — from a country, from a job, from a relationship, from a belief. Whatever the place, be it real or metaphorical, we always leave to improve our condition. It is in our nature. Change is the law of the universe. Yet, we often have a hard time to deal with it. We are time-dependent, and we are attached to people and to places. That is because we bring down everything to physicality, and by doing so there’s a sense of exclusion, of separation. But in this vast universe physical is just a few specs in the vastness of nothingness. We see everything as being “physical” because of the way our senses function: we can see all that which stops light. That which allows light to pass through or that which is light itself, we cannot see. We came to the conclusion that physical is everything because what’s physical it is all that we are able to experience. We are egocentric, while the universe it is not human-centric: every form of life — be it perceptible to our senses or not — has a role to play. And change is always happening.
The photos of this series were taken in the short span of a week, each following a ritual that I repeated everyday, for several days: I looked at myself in the mirror for thirty minutes, like an art performance with no spectators other than my self. I wanted to see the changes happening inside of me, through time and out of it. Not as Margot, as a human being. So I sat there and waited, until transitions.
© MARGOT ERRANTE, Transitions, Human Heart, 2017. Courtesy of Novalis Contemporary Art (Hong Kong)
What are you working on currently?
I am working on a portrait project about brides, which focus on the emotional struggles women face while trying to find their place in society. I choose brides because it is the no mans’ land: you are not married yet, but the decision has already been made - either by yourself or by your family. It’s a very delicate moment in women’s life.
What are your aims and objectives when taking a photograph?
It really depends on the project, but generally speaking if I can provoke an emotion, then I feel like I have succeeded. The aims of works of art are usually to communicate ideas politically, spiritually, or philosophically; to create a sense of beauty; to explore the nature of perception. But I find that sometimes the purpose may also be seemingly nonexistent. Some days there’s a driving force inside of you that pushes you to take a photo, and you don’t even know why.
© MARGOT ERRANTE, Transitions, Imago, 2017. Courtesy of Novalis Contemporary Art (Hong Kong)
How and when do you know that an image is going to be important or significant?
When it has an impact on someone’s life. No matter if in a large scale or a small scale. If an image can touch even a single life, it is significant. I once took the portrait of a gay couple, they were looking at each other in an affectionate pose. I later posted (with their consent) the image on a social media. A few days later, one of the two men wrote me, saying that no one in his family knew about his sexuality, he had not had the courage to tell them yet. But when his brother saw the portrait online wrote him a long nice letter of acceptance. That portrait broke the ice, and to me it’s one of the most significant pictures that I have taken.
What excites you about having your work shown in Shanghai?
It is a prestigious international event, so curriculum wise it is surely exciting for an artist to be there. But I am sentimental at heart and to me China is home, so having my works displayed in Shanghai for the first time now that I’m far away, it’s a sort of come back.