GIB50 by Iggy Smalls
Iggy Smalls, a Norwegian born photographic artist but otherwise currently internationally renowned and practicing visual storyteller, talks to us about her recent work in Gibraltar located in the south of Spain. Delivering a narrative reflective of the space surrounding her, the cultural environment and the people.
Tell us more about you and your artwork.
My work investigates concepts of truth, fiction and how environments influence feelings of identity. In 2015 I graduated with bachelor in Photography & Imaging from Ringling College of Art + Design in Florida, USA. My images has so far been exhibited there, in Nepal, Costa Rica, Belgium and selected by Millennium Images, British Journal of Photography, AI-AP, Feature Shoot, Redux, Format, Humble Arts Foundation and Der Greif, among others.. Currently I am freelancing out from Barcelona.
What was your creative process?
The most important part of my process (at least in the preliminary stages) is research; it very much shapes what and how I start any project. There were some ‘firsts’ particularly to this series - like spending more time reading up on Gibraltar than actually being there. I started planning this project in June 2016 after the news of the UK leaving the EU and did not go until September 2017 for more than a week. To have to work within a time limit I had set myself turned out to be a great experience, but I will always prefer to stay with a project a little longer. (However I am working on setting a return date for early next year to continue to work on this.) Gibraltar is a small (6.7 km2) and very welcoming territory with breathtaking landscape so the project pretty much unfolded itself thanks to this. The hardest part of the creative process for me is actually the final stage of editing - it can be frustrating without some help, so asking for a second opinion has always helped me out.
What work inspires or has inspired you?
Besides from what made an impression on me in college: Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin, Vivian Maier, Gordon Parks - contemporary image art is what inspires me the most. Taryn Simon’s “An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar”, Amy Elkins “Black is the Day, Black is the Night”, Ying Ang’s “Gold Coast” and Chloe Dewe Mathews “Shot At Dawn” to mention a few. I greatly admire and aspire to find the same multidimensional storytelling depth and unique POV’s these works and artists have.
Are there any artistic movements you enjoy in particular and why?
I do not know if this counts as an artistic movement but I love the renewed interest in analog photography. It might be a trend but without it, the production of film would be scarcer and even more expensive than now.. This increased interest has personally only been beneficial to me since using analog is my preferred.
Do you have any opinions or ideals underlying your art?
Yes, I guess so, some more consciously than others. To always do my best in representing my subject as respectful as possible. That not everything is for me to photograph (and that is okay).
Your work is really closely linked to your current location and in general is geographically influenced. Can you tell us a little more about your current work from Spain? How has the geography affected your work?
Correct, the red thread throughout my work are usually inspired by the current environment I am in - it is a result of moving about for most of my childhood (in Norway) and now adult life (USA and Spain). Like most people I like to explore, understand and get to know a new place, I just happen to also bring the camera with me. In Spain I have been focusing on urban orchards, traditional festivals and food culture - all projects influenced by living here. However ‘Neverland’ for example is one the works of mine where geographical location has been less relevant.
Any words for aspiring artists?
1) Always have your camera with you. 2) Get one or as many mentors as possible (without their help I would not be doing what I am doing today) 3) Try to keep your projects longterm, it might not be instantly gratifying but those projects tend to evolve into something very special.
Is there anything you’re currently working on?
Currently I am working on getting funding to return to Gibraltar to continue this project, while working on my other personal projects when I find the time. Most of my projects are works in progress.
Has your work been featured anywhere else recently?
Grab a copy of issue 3 of ‘Triple Cooked’ if you are in London, UK! This top notch food magazine has great guides while my images are featured alongside some other incredible food photographers.