by Dieter Debruyne

© Aurore Dal Mas, Ultima

How did your research evolve with respect to those early days? 

Aurore Dal Mas (ADM): I concentrate in my research on light surrounded by darkness. I continue to work on photography as the medium of desire, as an open door to ourselves or the human condition, always using fiction or a troubled reality. And I’m still attracted by the skin of things, by the surface. To me surface is everything, there’s nothing else. Better deal with it. In the case of photography, it’s certainly true… Oh yes, and heads are disappearing… that’s new.

What do you think about photography in the era of digital and social networking? 

ADM: We all know anybody can do a good picture – and share it. But as always…what I would call art is about perseverance, stubbornness and individuality. 
That being said, it’s obviously easier now to submit your work to the whole wide world but nothing replaces face to face contact. For keeping updated and staying in touch the internet is fantastic. Networking is an incredible tool.  

© Aurore Dal Mas, Deserts

About your work now. How would you describe your personal research in general? 

ADM: As I said, subject doesn’t matter. Nor time, nor place. I can do portraits, landscapes, … There is no right place or right moment – I am that place and moment. My job is to be ready. What matters to me is how I can transform things to make them appear more meaningful, to transmute the material. I think light can only really be seen in the dark. I think we are still a sum of cells reacting to pleasure and displeasure and I’m ok to talk to that part of us. But I’m also looking for a deeper level of understanding of both the image and beauty –  and that road has to be traveled alone. I’m only suggesting. So maybe my work can seem hermetic sometimes…

Do you have any preferences in terms of cameras and format?

ADM: No. But I like quick photography. That’s the way I work, with a 4x5 inch camera or a Polaroid – same way. 

Tell us about your latest projects? 

ADM: I have two projects going on. ‘Polvere’ and ‘Deserts’. ‘Polvere’ is a dark series that develops itself like a serie noire, in a kinda catastrophic atmosphere. Lazy bodies, skin, semi-abandonned landscapes, closed doors or gloomy hallways. It’s very dark, burned, not funny at all, there is no escape. I like the laziness of the characters, there is absolutely no action. As if they were consenting to go along with that world. But why? ‘Deserts’ is a mix of pictures and texts. Pictures are made during Skype sessions with men, I photograph their naked torsos, or more. There is no physical criteria. That project is a continuation of the ‘Figures’ series (pictures of a woman’s naked back - me) but here the idea was more to attract and repel, to question desire and attractiveness of men’s bodies, but I think it’s evolving. The screen is becoming an observation box. Texts are not clear about the beginning of each story. Does the woman want it to happen? That project is subtitled “this is about love, sex, relationships”. I would make a book of it.

© Aurore Dal Mas, Polvere

Is there any contemporary artist or photographer, even if young and emerging, who influenced you in some way? 

ADM: Of course, I’m aware of the work of Cindy Sherman, Sophie Calle or Dirk Braeckman. And we can certainly see some influence - they are inspiring.

But in general, I’m more sensitive to movies, music or other live performances than to photography. The movie director Joao Cesar Monteiro, the poet Mario Benedetti, or ‘Le métier de vivre’ by Cesare Pavese were very more nutritious to me but not as a visual influences. 

And yes, young people are very influential to me, they can do everything and are better trained to be “multifunctional” (communication, all the environments of an artistic practice). Am I old?? So yes, I steal everything I find interesting and use it for my own development. 

Three books of photography that you recommend?

1. ‘Leçon de photographie’, Stephen Shore
2. ‘Instant Light’, Andreï Tarkovsky
3. ‘Ping Pong conversations, Alec Soth and Francesco Zanot’

Is there any show you’ve seen recently that you find inspiring? 

ADM: Well it was last summer actually! Extra Fort at Recyclart, Brussels, two photographers projecting and presenting their work. They continue to do that kind of meeting regularly. It was Gert Jochems and Stefan Vanthuyne. Very interesting. 

© Aurore Dal Mas, Figures

Projects that you are working on now and plans for the future? 

ADM: ‘Polvere’ and ‘Deserts’ are still in progress though I partially showed ‘Polvere’ already. I’ll have a group exhibition in Gent mid-May. The rest is under discussion. But I’m looking for opportunities outside of our beloved but small Belgium.

How do you see the future of photography in general evolve? 

ADM: More and more documentary. Until we realize that’s not the ultimate way to understand people and people’s lives. A generalization of the understanding of the relative truth concept. The center of the world is definitely not central Europe anymore and for a long time. Mixed media. My crystal ball is turning black.  


Aurore Dal Mas