Photo by Nicolo Sertorio
Why did you embark on these road trips in the first place? Traveling just for the sake of movement, or was there a specific destination in mind?
I guess it started years back when I first decided I wanted to attend PhotoFest, the biggest fine arts photography fair. So spur of the moment, I said I was going to do it, signed up, and immediately there was this surge of emotion. It reminded me of all the trips I did with my mom, who had passed away a year before. In a way, it was almost a trip down memory lane or an homage to my mom who had passed away from cancer.
Why are these road trips so important to you?
It becomes natural to carve out some time to do personal work, which in turn, at least for me, requires a certain calmness, a peace of mind.
I find it hard to do personal work when I’m [at home in Oakland], because for me, my personal work is almost like meditation. I need to pull out and be in that calm, silent space where I’m at peace with myself for ideas to start bubbling up.
So you need to enter this certain head space, put time away, in order to create?
Do you meditate? If you’re on a 10-day retreat, the first three to four days, the monkey mind is going all over the place. The past and the future, jumping. And then slowly it calms down. And the human cycle is 10 days to let go. Even if I set time apart, the monkey mind doesn’t work like that.
It takes me days of silence and separation to not worry about how am I paying rent at the end of the month, or this client and that client to really be like, Ok, what’s coming out from inside of me? How am I perceiving the world around me? To me that takes days of silence.
What you’ll find some practices of meditation saying is that the answers are within us; we just need to be able to hear the voice. The only way to hear our own voice is by calming the disturbing voices all around — the monkey mind, the today and tomorrow, the errands, the jumping back and forth.
What the work is trying to convey is that I’m driving for days and days. I don’t have radio or music, I just need to go and enter this meditative state where slowly you let go and emerge with peace of mind.
That inner voice has the answers of what I want in life, my cravings, desires, wishes, dreams. I just need to be able to listen to that. And when I can listen, that’s when the so called miracles happen.
Photo by Nicolo Sertorio
Your photographs are composed so carefully. What visual approach do you take when shooting in the US Southwest?
It all starts with visual language. Just like the regular language, there’s a grammar you need to be aware of and familiar with. The point is not the grammar, it’s not just what you’re trying to say with your story or poem, it’s about your dialogue with the reader. To me, it’s about the individual language in the respect that I want to create a dialogue, a meaningful dialogue with the viewer. And not, you know, beauty for the sake of beauty, or throwing something in your face sensationally like blood, sex, politics and so on. It’s more of a hint of something that can trigger a logical conversation.
Can you elaborate on this concept of “hinting” to trigger a conversation.
We tend to get desensitized, I know that I do. I see so much work where I don’t engage in the conversation as to why this happened in this part of the world, and it’s just like… I can’t deal with this right now. My work wants to step back from that and say no, I’m not going to hit you in the face. I create a landscape that is approachable, nice, soft. It’s compositionally well-done. There’s nothing trapped in the image per say.
But at the same time it’s a little off. It makes you think, ok, what’s happening here. I think a whispered message can be much more powerful than a slap in the face.
View more of Nicolo Sertorio’s work here and on ViewFind.