28 year-old photographer Chiara Goia splits her time between her hometown in Milan, Italy and India. Her work has spanned the globe, and won numerous recognitions including PDN’s 30 and the Canon prize for emerging photographers. For her project Living In Memory, Goia photographed her grandmother in Genova, Italy, trying to understand her grandmother’s tendency “to live in her past and in her memories, as an escape to her present.” Below is an interview with Goia and a slideshow of her project.
BAM: How long have you been photographing your grandmother, and has the project changed over time?
CG: I have been consistently photographing her over a period of one year: this is where most of the images of this work come from. Later I kept taking pictures of her, but that was when I already considered this work finished and the new pictures wouldn’t fit anymore.
That was a period of time when the circumstances were balanced to be around her and tell her story. Both for her and for me.
BAM: What’s this work about for you, and is that different from what you want it to be about for a wider audience?
CG: For me this is a work about a woman, made by another woman. Then it is a work about my grandmother, about our closeness and about her solitude.
Something I have started to become closer to her, after a period we haven’t been seeing each other for a while, something I have done to try and clarify certain dynamics among each other and within our family; to be close to her and support her in a difficult moment of her life.
It is something very personal but told in a language that can reach a wider audience. This is probably the work I have done that received the most uniformed emotional responses by the people who saw it. Because it is quite a universal theme, people can easily identify in it, I guess.
BAM: In your artist statement, you write that this work is also a reflection of you. In what ways?
CG: Because I also always had an issue with the past. I do also tend to indulge in my memories, instead of looking ahead of me. I think it is something that has some cultural origins, but that also depends on how I was brought up.
And it is also something that has to do with solitude. I often feel lonely, even when I am surrounded by people. This is also because I am a very independent person and I don’t mind at all to be alone. I do need it in fact and I create circumstances where I can be alone also for long periods of time.
BAM: There’s a loneliness about these images. How much about that is your grandmother feeling lonely, and how much about that is you seeing her life as lonely?
CG: My grandmother feels extremely lonely. Probably since her parents died. Even if she has people around her who help her. I think she is in many ways because how she managed her life so far and how she let others treat her. I think a lot of people who deal with her daily do not realize how lonely she is.