An Interview with Erika Zolli on Framing the Surreal
There are many realms to explore the surreal. Milan-based fine art photographer Erika Zolli loves to conjure images that are made in her head. Translate them into photographs, they become “too real”. Here’s our interview with Zolli on her oeuvre and creative process as a dreamer.
Hi Erika, welcome to Lomography Magazine! Firstly, when and how did you get into photography?
Hi Ciel, thank you for having invited me to do this interview. The interest in photography was born during my studies in Philosophy and Cognitive Science: I began to apply the study of human being and its reality, both conscious and unconscious, to figurative figures. I have always been fascinated by the possibility, through the scenery of fiction, to create new surrealisms that represent invisible worlds of the human race.
The majority of your oeuvre is very surreal — even the geometric ones! How would you describe your style?
My photography explores the dreamlike dimension of the mind through surreal worlds that I create. Although these worlds are often strange, they have a lightness and a sense of magic, too.
If you can have your own wonderland, what would it look like?
It looks like a giant bubble of soap.
What do you usually do to improve your photographic work?
The key is to work on different projects. Every new photographic project leads me inexorably to learning and improving on issues that I have never faced. I think the importance of it is to experiment and to constantly prove them.
In general, where do you draw inspiration from? Who/what are your creative muses?
My personal inspiration comes from a very simple rule: the reversal of a situation. If I see a green object, I imagine it red and immersed in a context where it is absolutely out of place. I have also some big muses, one of them is Franco Fontana: I love his approach to photography, in particular, his idea of creativity and visual image. I’ve seen and read his various interviews and I’ve been so impressed with the humility that he has because in his words you can see a really simple soul. I think this is the real feature of the big ones.
If you could work, collaborate or meet with any photographer or artist, who would it be, and what would you two be doing?
I can’t tell you a specific person, but one of my next aspiration is to find a good set designer to recreate in reality what I usually photographer through photo manipulation.
Describe to us — what’s a day in the life of Erika Zolli?
it is a constant balance between working hard and having fun.
What do you usually do during your downtime, on days not living the artist’s life?
I love traveling, eating well and I have a great obsession with good music.
Any on-going project, or other plans you’re keen to work on?
My next project is “Italian Brilliant Minds”. The project consists of photographing Italian characters who excel in their field and accompany to these portraits the interviews about their creative process.