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Ana Vallejo Reflects On Her Exhibition at PhMuseum Days International Photography Festival
Published3 May 2023
The Colombian author recalls the public installation of her project Neuromantic, an occasion to discuss her research process and share insight on what it meant to attend the 2022 edition of the festival in Bologna and how to prepare your application.
Hola Ana, let's start with your project. It is a long-term analysis of very personal questions. Can you tell us something about the process of researching and production of images? How it has evolved over time?
It's been quite a journey. I started this project in 2019. The process of research has been very robust. I started reading neuroscientific papers about how the effects of the initial stage of romantic love resemble the high of the drug. With the pandemic and as I delved deeper into this matter, research has shifted to how trauma affects our biology and how we intimately relate to others. I am now in the final stage of looking at trauma integration and how brain plasticity allows us to regenerate ourselves. I reference John Bowlby, Gabor Mate, Helen Fischer, Bianca Jones Marlin, Zygmunt Bauman, Bessel van der Kolk, and Jung, among others.
On the other hand, image production has been a very intuitive process. Neuromantic is a creative space to look within. Photographing people close to me and experimenting with mixed media, light, and color, have played a role in processing my trauma, shifting and expanding myself. Some of the people who have collaborated on this project have also experienced strong revelations about their intimacy. I am now working on a book that is helping me put every element of the project together cohesively. The book has been very helpful in resolving the project.
Is the possibility of showcasing your work already affecting you while still in the process of producing work?
Showcasing the work is yet another layer of the process; it doesn’t necessarily have to be a final step. Having the opportunity to think of the work as an installation is a rewarding process that results in an interaction of an audience with the work, which further feeds the project.
How significant has been showcasing your work at PhMuseum Days 2022? Can you recall the benefits of exhibiting your work at that specific career moment?
It was one of the most memorable moments in my career so far. PhMuseum’s support allowed many to see my potential as an artist. I love how PhMuseum is committed to expanding how images communicate and interact with people beyond the classic format. In my case, I had huge scaled photos at Cassero LGBTI+ center. I was so ecstatic and moved I even swam on top of one of the photos :)
You were in Bologna for the opening weekend. Can you recall how valuable was that experience?
It was invaluable. From discovering another level of how much I love food to meeting the fantastic PhMuseum team in person and all the other wonderful artists part of the 2022 edition. Pictures would not have done justice to experiencing being at the festival and connecting with extraordinary people who became friends.
When preparing a submission, do you have any advice for the new applicants to the PhMuseum Days Festival Open Call?
I can’t always manage to live up to this, but I find it very helpful when I start my applications early. It allows me to revisit the application, tweak things and be more precise with my image selection, project description, and captions. I would encourage people to apply this year because this festival has a wide array of opportunities and prizes and because by getting into the practice of regularly applying to open calls that resonate with you, your project also develops and improves.
Ana Vallejo's project Neuromantic was selected through the festival's open call, learn from her experience and consider participating to have the chance of joining us in Bologna. You have time until 11 May to submit your work.