The streets are usually lively places, hustling and bustling with life. But Andy Fabrykant's has a series of photographs documenting the lack of human activity. Here's a series of questions about his project.
Andy, please tell us a bit about yourself
I am a filmmaker born in Argentina and now living in France since 2009. I graduated from the Film University of Buenos Aires (FUC) and I did a master degree in Czech Republic at FAMU.
What inspired you to become a photographer?
To be honest, I have never considered myself a photographer. I started to take pictures because it was a practical way to learn the technical aspects of cinema, and since then I never stopped. It became part of my everyday life. Now it's automatic, when I go out I carry my keys, phone, wallet and camera.
I was lucky that there was a Pentax K1000 at home, so I just bought some film and I started to take pictures without really knowing what I was doing. While I was starting my film studies I remember taking a lot of them trying to comprehend and practice what I was learning.
Then, once that I understood the basics it became a routine, every weekend I started to get lost in my city (at that time Buenos Aires) to capture what was going on in the city or the city itself. Other cities and trips came after, but the spirit kept the same. We never stop learning, and if we think we did, we should probably just start doing something else.
Street Photography is usually bustling with life, do you consider the absence of human activity a sort of anti-street photography or is it still street photography?
Street photography is not only about people. Life is not only us humans but also what we left behind. That’s why I can’t call it architectural photography, even if there is an absence of human activity there is a still a human presence. There is a trace of our society.
I see, the reflection of the creator in the created. What is your definition of Street Photography?
Street photography is related to public spaces that we all share and have access to. It’s a type of photography that is not premeditated. This doesn’t mean that there is no posing, it means that even when there is an interaction within the photographer and the subject / object, this doesn’t happen in a controlled environment.
Do you think that series like these are indicative of a state of mind or one should not look to deep into the deeper meanings of images?
To tell you the truth, I discovered a lot about my photography making exhibitions or just showing them to colleagues. I am also amazed how the internet can be a great tool to share and get your work analyzed by completely strangers. Things that I never noticed appeared doing this, even some of my series. It’s all about making connections between photographies and discovering new meanings.
I remember once during one of my exhibitions somebody told me that my work had a really Latin American style. How streets where shown or how people looked on those images. He didn’t know that I was Argentinian and all the images where captured in Europe.
Why compartmentalize and categorize your work? (Animals-Empty Streets-Fragmentation,etc)
In the beginning, when I started taking pictures, I did it without thinking of what I was photographing. I was lost but it was really pure. When I started to make a taxonomy of my work is when I started to make connection between all the images and it helped me to find my style and my interests.
At the same time I noticed that I created a mechanism that was counterproductive. I started to feel stuck in my own categorisation. So I just started to get into new subjects, but I ended up doing the same thing again. I think that once we created an automatism we have to move on and experiment new things.
So, I created what I call “games”. They are just excuses to discover new topics. For example, I take a whole roll of film staying in the same place, I take pictures without seeing threw the viewfinder or I just follow someone on the street and take pictures of where he takes me. I must say that I keep on working on the first subjects that I created, but now with all the knowledge and freedom that I only had when I began.
Do you think that empty, normally inhabited places are inherently creepy an eerie?
They might be at first, but isn’t that a great environment for artists?
What is your process? Do you wait for the streets to clear out?
I can’t say that is always the same process. I adapt to each situation. The first question that I ask to myself is how much time I will have to take the picture. There are even some pictures that I stayed for a few hours waiting for the perfect light to come.
There are also times where we just have a few seconds to react until the space gets full of people again. If you see a time-lapse you will notice that there are cycles. We just have to wait for the perfect moment.
Any closing comments?
Thank you for this opportunity!