This German-Colombian photographer visualizes the unity of the nature and themselves through rituals and stillness. Through merging these elements they create a sacred space of symbiosis.
When and how did you start your photography journey?
Photography has always been part of my life. I struggled a lot as a child verbally explaining the world I saw to my mother. It is a very silly story but I was trying to come up with an idea how to freeze moments and show them to her. I remember thinking it was impossible until I saw a KODAK commercial on Television that was showing some children under a tree and their mum taking a photo of them.
I recall the image becoming a photograph and the mother showing it to the grandparents. It blew my mind. (I clearly didn’t understand television).I told my mum I needed a camera and she and my grandmother put together some money to get me one. I started photographing when I was four. I still remember some photos, mostly of colours and shiny reflections.
Can you describe your work – what topics you are drawn to and if there’s a story behind it?
Photography to me is not my work. It is an intrinsicate part of who I am and how I live. It is my most honest way of communicating. A photograph is like kelp with blades swaying into all directions. One can read them as poetry; they open up the world to me as well as they open up my world to others.
I use photography as a language that discloses my reality, it is a document for it. I am German-Colombian and growing up it was very confusing to locate myself until I understood that I am myself like algae: relational and mutable in symbiosis. I dedicate my life to the poetry of relational existence.
I work with rituals that affirm connection to nature. I was brought up with belief in magic and I reaffirm it in my current rituals that I document through the camera. They exist in purpose of sharing a story with others. The story of how we might foster consciousness in our interaction with this planet.
Tell us a bit more about your photography process?
It begins with a thought I want to explore deeper. I write and read a lot, usually there comes a lot of inspiration from that, but also from my friends, my surrounding, the ocean.
My process is ever changing. I have photographed my friends a lot in the past, or my partner. Then I have gone to photographing mainly nature in instances where I identified myself in. Now it is a hybrid, though I mostly photograph myself, my rituals or the outcomes from the interaction in space.
I don’t particularly like to see myself in the photographs. It is more due to the practicality of being in the place doing what I do and wanting to document it; what I do is personal and it would not mean the same (at this point in time) to ask someone else to represent because it goes beyond representation.
Have you studied photography ?
Yes I studied photography. It was hard, because I studied in Portugal and it was not particularly cheap nor particularly the education style I wanted/needed at the time — Until I did my post-graduate in Universidade de Belas Artes in Lisbon. That one kind of shaped me as a person.
Now I am doing my MA studies in Finland and I have a different perception of what photography is and can be (=everything) and the ways in which I can use it. I do not think you have to have a degree, everyone forges their own path.
What are your photography goals ?
I want to be able to keep investigating what intrigues me, that is art to me. To keep exploring concepts and expressing my thoughts of it in the way I see them. I want to be able to communicate with others.
I am not sure how to be an entrepreneur, I don’t have that many goals in the direction for now. I just have one dream still a seed in the back of my head, which is to have an artistic residency – a place to create community, dialogue, exchanges of visions.
Who are the artists and photographers that you find inspiring ?
Oh definitely Cecilia Vicuña. She is my favourite of all time. Bell Hooks! Then also, Maria Evelia Marmolejo. Robin Wall Kimmerer. Anna Halprin. John Cage. The Ocean.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start photography?
You should always do what fulfils you. If you have found what does that for you then the doubts have no place in your present. Whatever you want to pursue in life, it always helps to read and talk to others about it to get a better understanding.
Celine S Diaz (GER/COL, b. 1994) is currently pursuing a Master’s in photography at Aalto University in Helsinki. They hold a BA in Photography and Visual Culture from IADE-U Lisbon, as well as a Post-Graduate in Discourses in Contemporary Photography from Lisbon’s University of Fine Arts. Their work has been exhibited in Portugal and Germany and was selected for Tallinn’s Art Fair in 2021.
Website Celine Diaz
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I enjoyed reading this interview. I especially loved the inspiring comment that if photography is something that inspires you, “the doubts have no place in your present.” What a beautiful way to look at it.
Sonya Mantere says
Indeed, interviews are a great way to be introduced to a different way of seeing things. We are all inspired somehow, and just being able to read others revelations helps so much.