Spanish photographer Silvia Grav creates dark, surreal and dreamlike images that deal with both conscious and subconscious states of mind. This talented young artist is also an aspiring filmmaker. I caught up with her and asked her what she is trying to tell us through her photography.
When did you start taking photographs and why?
I have always had a healthy curiosity about everything and my friend had a camera. When I saw the potential of it I wanted to play with it too.
I have read interviews that attempt to describe the aesthetics of your images – I am more interested in how you would describe them yourself?
My photography is just one aspect of me. And it is the biggest, most difficult and persistent part – the sadness. But it is also curious, because in real life I smile a lot. The darkness is something that I can’t avoid in the same way that I can’t avoid this internal tendency that I have to fatality. In the end, it is a mix of my dark side, my need for relief, the addiction of wanting my ego to be heard, and the freedom (and prison) that is in all of this.
You manipulate your pictures to show parts of your mind, themes and stories. What are trying to tell us through them?
Normally I’m more concrete in expressing what I want or I need, but it is difficult not to fall into the temptation of using a medium through which I express myself so easily, and it also allows me to avoid any type of reaction. It’s both a dangerous and effective tool, with two consequences from my work; cowardice and relief. Only the people and my relationship with them can move me to work. That means that you can never maintain control. Despite the chaos and pain, it is the most beautiful part of all of this. The other people are just spectators who never interfere in this process, but I am eternally grateful for them allowing me to do what I do.
You work in other mediums, writing and film – tell me about those and do you have a preference?
Preferences to me are just a matter of convenience. If I did not need so many people and if it was easier to make films I may not use my camera anymore. I think film is much faster and a more direct way to go to the deepest place of a person. Photography is only an image and music is just sound. The movie is an image, rhythm, sound, noise, music, structure, and when it’s done well you can get a much more powerful result.
You have done the artwork and the video for an album for Kiven, the rock band from LA – how did this come about? Did you enjoy shooting the video?
They saw my work in a blog and they contacted me. First we agreed to work together just on the cover of his new album, and during the process they saw another video of me and they asked me to make one for them. It was so nice filming it. I had to travel to a beautiful town that is a little bit lost (Babia). The location was incredible. There was a town in ruins that was under the lake in winter, but in summer the lake dries up and you can see the ruins and the old streets. My family comes with me and it all ends up being a little adventure.
Tell me about your photograph ‘About the Holocaust’ – this is so powerful. Is this an issue that you are passionate about?
I called it that initially because the subject of the Nazi Holocaust haunted me since I was little and was what inspired the project. I speak not only of holocausts, but of evil in general. Anyway, it is not passion. I don’t think that we can use the word passion with this topic. It’s hard to explain the meaning but it’s more an absolute rage mixed with intrigue. Everything that I can’t understand haunts and obsesses me insanely.
Are you interested in politics at all?
To some extent I am. I try to stay informed but it’s something that frustrates me every day. I find it difficult not to allow anger and helplessness to overcome me.
What is your biggest inspiration as an artist?
The first big inspiration for me was a professor I had before I started Fine Arts. His name is Daniel Muriel. Almost no one listened to him as we were too young to value his knowledge, but even so, he kept talking for hours. He always said interesting things and the passion with which he spoke was wonderful.
Tell me what is on the agenda for the rest of this year. Do you have any exhibitions coming up?
Yes! A collective exhibition in Milk Gallery in New York, in La Fabbrica Del Vapore in Italy and another in San Jorge University in Zaragoza, Spain. I have started to work on an experimental documentary with my friend and photographer Virginia Rota, and I have some collaboration with musicians and other artists coming up as well.