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Learn From Experience: Irene Cruz

Irene Cruz is a DOP photographer and video artist.

She is fully engaged in photography in various fields: video art, film, as well as teaching.

Her works have been presented at festivals as well as individual and group fairs or exhibitions around the world, such as the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, the Circle of Fine Arts or the Palace of Cibeles in Madrid, La KunstHalle or Tempelhof in Berlin, Project Art Space in New York, the MUA3 in Alicante or the Da2 4 de Salamanca.

She currently resides in Berlin, where she takes advantage of the proximity to nature and northern light to incorporate them into her works.

She studied Advertising and PR, and Audiovisual Communication (UCM, Madrid, 2010).

Then completed the international master’s degree EFTI, (Conceptual Photography and Artistic Creation, 2011).

In 2013, she took a specialized course on cinematic narrative lighting at the same center.

She has won awards such as the Banco Santander Foundation’s Photo-Detail Accesit in 2010, the 2nd AENA Foundation Photography Award, the first prize at the II CFC-Iberdrola Photography Competition in 2014, and the 2014 Videoarte Best Piece Award by the international platform Elmur.net.

She has participated in the Photoespaña festival uninterruptedly since 2012 in various galleries and centers.

She combines her career in contemporary art, with teaching (at various specialized universities and schools in Mexico, Spain, UK, Germany and Switzerland) and her work as director of photography and colorist.

As DOP two feature films “Diana” (Fiction, Alejo Moreno, 2018) and “Proven Facts” (TBD, 2020).

Can be highlighted although she has also made video clips, campaigns (the last one she has directed for Levi’s), pieces of video art (highlighting her work at the Deutsche Oper 2014-2016), short documentaries…

Since 2019 she has been part of the AEC (Spanish Association of Directors and Directors of Photography) and CIMA since 2018 (Association of Women Filmmakers and Audiovisual Media). In Berlin she is part of the stammtisch Women in Cinema Berlin organization as well as an active member of The Women+ Film Network Berlin.

Statement

My work manifests mystery, intimacy. It declares the human being as part of nature and attests to its integration into the landscape…. The landscape that can be seen in my images always has an emotional role.

I am interested in working away from personalization, close to representing universal emotions and feelings, hence the absence of faces in general.

Photography is for me it’s a native language. From a very young age I communicate through it as my personal connection to the environment. I understand art as a quest, a therapy and a tool that leads me to constant spiritual and professional transformation. My work is always a mirror of my inner universe, of my position in front of the world, and a reflection of what I have to live in every moment of my life.

The most distinctive feature of my work is light.

I look for the limits of dusk and dawn, my light is blue, cold. I have always felt a great attraction for the dim and intimate, subtle, serene lighting that surrounds the stage. I create from the “liminal” (from both sides of a border or threshold);

I mean, being between day and night, tranquility and restlessness.

I move and explore the place that exists between the different polarities because for me there are no limits.

There are roads, bridges…

And in the end: Nature always wins, it’s everything.

Hey Emiliano! Thank you for this interview and for giving me the opportunity to share what I do with your beautiful Berliner community!

What are the rules of your photographic work?

The only rule when I create is that it has to flow, everything that I create emerges from my deep truth.

All my work comes from within, from the inner-places that I discover through my photography.

I have used photography from a very early age as a means of self-introspection, it is a way of life for me, I could somehow compare it to a therapy.

Is there a particular combination of techniques and tools that you think makes the difference?

I always love to explore different mediums and techniques. Right now I’m much more into film photography. I’ve recently acquired a Hasselblad which forces me to look at things differently and makes me stick to the language of square format. Something that has never attracted me and that I am now exploring.

I don’t think that any technique makes a difference, I think the important thing is to innovate, to try new things that can make your work evolve, and really express and contribute to your genuine way of looking at the world. This way we can inspire others, make them reflect, or simply enjoy our work and share with them our creative process.

Tell us about an experience that definitely changed the way you work and made you grow.

I started working professionally in movies as a DOP and some cinematographic influence clearly can be perceived in my work ever since.

My first feature movie “Diana” was a challenge, I explored another way of seeing light, I started to paint with color reflections, which really improved my perception and it’s clearly been reflected in my personal work.

Was there ever a difficult situation? How did you react? Tell us.

There have been many difficult situations, this profession is full of challenges.

Without going any further: this 2020 in which I have hardly been able to make exhibitions, all the art fairs have been cancelled…

It has been a challenge to adapt the whole art market to the internet, to take advantage of other kinds of online possibilities… and to connect more with my followers and students on social networks instead of personally.

To quote I’d say: “The only possible adaptation to these times is innovation, doing things differently, coming together and looking for solutions in a dialogue and not in a constant fight. The only useful reaction is to reflect and redirect.”

How do you relate to the environment and the subjects you portray?

Both the choice of spaces and the people who are photographed in my work are of big importance. The atmosphere of the photograph has to be conveyed as a whole.

For me the landscape or the place that is chosen always have an emotional reason. The two of them have to be in harmony.

I also ask you to share a bonus trick among your secret techniques.

When I get creatively blocked, I always have a notebook where I automatically write how I feel, or if I don’t feel like it, I open any book (literary or art) and write about the first picture I randomly see or continue the text of the first sentence I read.

That brings out the monster that was blocking me. I hope it helps someone else!

Tell us about your equipment, what kind of cameras do you shoot with?

I own a lot of cameras, but my top 5 are:

Are there any books you would recommend?

Books for inspiration: 

What stimulates your creativity, what inspires you?

I usually don’t know exactly where that thing they call inspiration comes from.

It always catches you when you are already working (as the great Picasso used to say).

It can be an experience, a sequence, an instant, a phrase, an emotion, a fragment of a poem, a colour…

When I look for it, I like to find it above all through books. I read a lot of philosophy; Simmel, Ritter, Schopenhauer, Spinoza, Heidelberg, Sennett, are some of my favorites.

I also go to the cinema: I really like Terrence Malick, Lars von Trier.

Especially Malick, he is a great influence, he has a very interesting cinematographic language, I find it fascinating.

As for photographers, I really like the work of Mayumi Hosokura, Francesca Woodman, Arno Rafael Minkkinen… I could keep going forever.

Irene Cruz

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