Interview: Sophie Heriat
Luca Curci talks with Sophie Heriat during RITUALS, first appointment of ANIMA MUNDI 2022 art fair, at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.
Born in 1991, lives and works in Paris. After graduating with an audiovisual Diploma Advanced Technician with an Image option, then a Master’s in film and digital photography, Sophie then flew to the “Université du Québec à Montréal” (UQAM). She there finished her master’s thesis on color as a vector of sensations. Back in France, she worked as a colorist and is now in film production. In her photographic work, she is careful with the details and the poetry of the moment, to what in the image will say something about our humanity, our feelings. She experiments with photography by intermingling textures, materials, and colors and sometimes playing with superimpositions in order to create imaginative abstractions and renew the gaze. Her photographs dialogue with painting and drawing, which have an enormous influence on her. She was a finalist in the Liberation APAJ competition in 2016 and in the second MyRanKArt digital fair in 2018. In 2020 her series “Infusion d’être” was selected to participate in the International Festival of Photography Incadaqués competition and now at the international art fair Anima Mundi organized by the ITSLIQUID Group during the Venice Biennale.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Sophie Heriat – It’s imagination. Something I particularly need. When I take photographs or when I work on them with different software it’s like traveling in my mind. It allows me to escape completely, to enter a personal universe in a way.
LC – What are your thoughts while you take a picture? Do you have any habits or rituals while you work?
SH – My photographs are always made in two stages: there is the first stage of classic shooting and a second stage on the computer where I experiment a lot, I like to vary the techniques. For example, I like to create superimpositions for which I do a lot of tests. I take my photographs on the screen and not by looking through the viewfinder. Surprisingly this allows me to experiment with a fusion that is even stronger with my subject. In general, I trigger when I feel something particular by seeing what is playing on the screen. When the moment or the environment inspires me, I often have the impression of being caught up in what I’m taking a picture of. I no longer have any notion of time, for example, hours could pass without me realizing it. During the retouching on the computer, I find this same feeling of entering a parallel universe. Music at this time plays a great role: it can be any type of music but often without words, not to get attached to it and let yourself be carried away by the melody. Electro music lends itself well. This helps me maintain an atmosphere that is conducive to creativity.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
SH – As far as I’m concerned, I am a photographer but I am also in charge of production in cinema and audiovisual and I am part of the programming team of two documentary festivals. I try to give as much time as possible to my own artistic work, but it’s not always easy, especially since my work in the audiovisual sector is also a work of passion and demanding work. I try to strike a balance between the two. Helping directors complete their projects, and talking about narration and creation with others also allows me to take a step back from my own creations, it is an obvious source of inspiration and energy.
LC – Do you use art to express something in particular? Is it your medium of expression?
SH – I believe that my photographs are mainly on the side of the emotional and the feelings. This is a question that has always fascinated me and which I find perhaps an infinite source of new projects: how to make the person who sees the photograph feel what inhabited us, what made us vibrate as a human beings at the time when one chose to trigger or at the time of the post-production tests. Beyond the feelings at the time, I think that something of what made our life and our state of mind at that moment is also imprinted on the sensor. This is why I like all the sidesteps that will allow a dialogue to arise. When shooting, I look for reflections, a breath of wind, a ray of light, and alteration of the image; anything that can create a vibration, a tremor like what one feels when looking at a painting by Rothko for example. For me, painting, drawing, or silver photography and therefore the relationship to matter are red threads, and landmarks. I am also passionate about what color and all possible color combinations can convey. A red next to green will not give the same feeling as a red next to a blue. The possibilities are therefore endless. Photography is indeed my privileged medium of expression but I can find the same sensations dancing or singing or also by playing sports. Finally, in different things in life that allow you to escape.
LC – How do you feel when you see your work completed?
SH – There’s not really a moment when I say to myself “Hey, that’s it, photography is very good like that”, I think that for me the question would rather be what makes me stop. I often use superimpositions of several photographs. Sometimes I add a picture to the composition only to bring an additional ray of light that did not exist in the original photograph. In the same way, I can add material to a photograph by superimposing on it, for example, a photograph of an object that had a fluffy material, or a reflection in the distance that brings grain. For each of these additional touches, I just select the area of the image that interests me and I redraw it, with a brush. The relationship to painting and even to music is very strong here. Each of these keys is like a necessary harmony so that the whole can resonate with accuracy or dissonate in the right place. I look at my photography several times, taking a step back, considering it as a whole and I stop when each note of color, each ray of light, and each texture seems to be in the right place.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this exhibition? How did it inspire you?
SH – I believe that the concept of ritual can speak to any artist. If we consider a ritual as a way to exteriorize feelings then it is very close to art. There is something inspiring in this by definition, the spiritual and the imagination being, here again, very close. Some rather experimental images immediately come to my mind.
LC- Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
SH – The two photographs I am exhibiting are both parts of the “Infusion d’être” series. I made this series in April 2020 during the lockdown in France. It was a complex period for the reasons that we all shared but also for personal reasons. I had so many things in me that were just waiting to be expressed. In addition, the time I had in front of me allowed me to do a lot of experiments. Some photographs are the result of 5 or 6 hours of work. I really had the impression of visiting a little more each day this personal universe, sometimes very abstract and sometimes more figurative.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
SH – In any case, I believe that each participant in an exhibition allows us to question our series from a different angle and to find words to express things that most of the time remain immediate and spontaneous. This often allows me to have other ideas for the future.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us? Would you suggest a collaboration with us? What do you think about our services?
SH – It is a joy for me to know that my photographs are seen in Italy during the Biennale and to have had feedback on my work from the ITSLIQUID teams. Also, the communication was very good. The various organizers have always responded quickly and precisely to my various questions.