We recently caught up with Gina Soden, photographer and rising star of British contemporary art.
artrepublic: So Gina, how do you find your fantastic and hidden locations?
Gina: A variety of ways - I use Google maps and search manually for places, also if I know of a location in a town I will look for others on aerial view and street view. This is a great way to “drive” around and take a look. I also look at articles and books. Tip offs from friends too. It takes me hours to find places sometimes. Other times it is very difficult, so I am lucky to have a great network of friends I am in contact with who share information on abandoned places. The people in the group share a common interest but have different motivations behind their love of exploration. For example, I know a guy who has done a project on Italian asylums and wants the patients stories told. We’ve worked together and while he has been going through the records and speaking to the manager I have been shooting.
artrepublic: It seems like your photographic series have a strong sense of narrative - is this organic or do you create a story with each series?
Gina: When I'm shooting I try to give a sense of place but not direct the narrative. I want people to be able to make their own stories. I don't shoot with a series in mind. I collect images and then put them together. For example, Incremento was created from various shoots in Romania, Italy and France. It can sometimes be a race to get there before a building gets renovated or demolished!
Q. That sounds incredible - any hairy moments?
Gina: To get into an abandoned asylum in Italy I had to crawl through a basement between pipes covered in fibreglass. It was boiling hot, itchy and very claustrophobic. It was all worth it- once inside I spent 12 hours there. I’ve been back three times since, each time a different way in.
artrepublic: Do you have a particular room or piece that came from that experience which stand out for you?
Gina: A really interesting piece that is titled 'Manicomio: Operating Theatre', it was shot using a panoramic head with a wide aperture. The final image is one hundred and seventeen images stitched together. It’s a huge piece, sized at 157cm squared. It took a long time to shoot it, and a long time to stitch the images together, I had to do a lot of it manually to line it up. I wanted to portray a wide scene of the whole room but with only a certain part in focus to draw attention to the centre. I love the detail in it and the fact all that was left behind is a hospital.
artrepublic: Which of the series so far would you say is your favourite?
Gina: Definitely Incremento, it has the most artistic freedom. Q. Any inspirations? A. I'm very inspired by Wes Anderson, his stylistic art gives me a sense of calm. The single point perspective and symmetry in his work has a soothing effect so I love to portray that in my work. Q. You have been involved in a number of really exciting projects with Soho House and the Ned, can we see your work there now? A. Yes, my work is in the Neds permanent 'Vault' Collection, in the hotel rooms there and in the Parlour and the Lounge. My work is also at the recently refurbished Soho House - 40 Greek Street. Happy to give a guided tour! ;)