BEATRICE MANCINI

Beatrice-Mancini_Monica-Galletto_Web1I am a photographer. I have been in Florence since 2010, but I am still studying at LABA, Liberia Accademia di Belle Arti, here in Florence. I used to live in a little village called Monte Amiata that is in the south of Tuscany. The little village has a really different atmosphere from Florence, a big town. 

www.bbeatricemancini.com
bbeatricemancini@gmail.com

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How do you think your hometown influenced you as a photographer? I used to study science in school, but then I changed and chose art. I just wanted to get rid of everything I had done there and change my life.

What first got you interested in art? I have always loved art, any kind of art, but I shifted to photography probably because I was better at taking pictures than at painting or at sculpture. I’ve tried everything, like sculpture and painting, but I was not good at that. So I changed and chose photography, but I always liked artistic photography.

When did you first start doing photography? I started when I was little, like ten years old, but it was not important for me. Then in high school I started taking pictures by myself of my friends, putting makeup on and taking pictures like stage photography. But it was a joke [laughs].

What were some big moments for you as an artist? The big choice I have made is when I chose to study art by attending a school of art. I wanted to do it, so actually doing it. I think the past three years are the most important moment for me. I studied technique, what I want to do, what type of artist I want to be. So, in these three years I had a lot of decisions to make. And my life changed, really, from nothing to something that I really wanted to do.

Who influenced you while growing up? I think it’s some mix of people I have met in these years. Probably in these few years, not before. I don’t know if I am influenced from my past life, like where I used to live. But mainly now I am influenced by the people I have met in Florence or around the world when I travel. Also artists that I know nothing about, just by watching them on the internet to see what they do and to look at their art.

Do you use photography when you travel, or is traveling a separate thing? Probably it is separate because I don’t love travel photography or taking pictures of landscape. I am not interested in this, but I am more interested in people; people I meet there or different people from what I am used to knowing. What they do, what it is like. I am always interested in concepts or ideas, people, and what they think. And I think my photography reflects this.

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Photo by Beatrice Mancini
Jewelry by Sara Amrhein

With art or with photography, are there any styles that inspire you? I am really inspired by art then photography because I love pop art. Since I was little, I used to love the 60’s culture. I used to listen to the Beatles and want to be like, “Freedom!” [laughs]. I’ve changed my ideas, but I used to, and now still, love this kind of art, like pop art or how we call it ‘Arte Povera’ in Italy. Or the avant-garde and what they have done, like surrealists. But, I hope to bring something new to it, like a new surrealism [laughs]. But, it is a bit hard.

What role did your family play in your efforts to become an artist and photographer? Fortunately my parents always supported me in everything, I think. Maybe too much [laughs]. They believe in what I am doing. It was a big choice to shift to art, but they always support me even though they are not so artistic. I did not grow up in an artistic world, but even if they don’t know too much about art, they believe in me and support me. Mainly my sister has influenced me a lot because she is older and introduced me into new cultures, like more artistic cultures. She’s an architect, so she probably influenced me in that way.

Do you think art was something that you found on your own, or would you say other people in your life introduced you to it? Both because people that I meet always influence me; maybe they bring me to a kind of art or to a kind of photography, but it is for me that I am interested in it. I always want to make new things and go forward.

Are you studying photography specifically at your university? Yes, photography. All the classes are in photography, but I study also art or history of art, and I like it. It’s a different school because in Italy it’s like a new thing to have a school of photography because photography is not considered an art still nowadays. So you have to do a different type of school like mine.

What kind of different photography styles have you worked in? I used to do film photography, like pinhole, Lomo camera. But I changed to digital photography because I think it was too expensive for me to develop and print. It was not worth it. I love it, I like that kind of photography, I still continue to do it for myself. But for work and artistic photography I need it more quickly.

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What are some challenges that you have had to overcome as an artist and photographer? I have to think more about what I am doing. Like, when I am taking a picture or doing a specific project or series. Lots of people tell me to think more about what you want to say and not be too general, but specific, because I use photography to say something. I use photography like I could use painting. It’s not only photography, but photography to say something.

Who is currently your biggest inspiration? My biggest inspiration now are the new artists or new photographers, young people like me, or innovations nowadays. I am always looking for new things because I get bored really quick. Now I like one thing but tomorrow, I don’t know probably I will change my idea. So, I need to look at new artists every time and every day. I am interested in new types of photography like mixing the photography with painting or mix media art. I like that kind of thing. The things that people might usually say, “Oh, it’s weird,” but I like it [laughs].

Do you find most of these people online or around Florence? Mostly online. The worst part about Florence is that I can’t find those people in Florence.

Do you think that Florence has a lot of other photographers? Yes, it has a lot of other photographers, but mainly commercial photographers, I think. They are always taking pictures of Florence, landscapes, or mostly for work. But they are not the kind of photographer that I am looking for, they are not more enthusiastic in new things and new ideas.

How have your style and techniques developed over the years? In the last three years it has changed a lot. I started with films and pinhole, as I’ve said, and then shifted to digital photography because I love color. First, I used to work with different colors in a picture. Now my photography has become more minimal, like one color, so you wonder why it is that color. I prefer a clean composition or really minimal and focused.

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I am most interested in people … different people from what I am used to knowing. What they do, what it is like. I am always interested in concepts or ideas, people, and what they think.

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How would you summarize your style? Color, self portraits, conceptual, and minimal for most of the project. I am really interested in colors and construction, like the perfection of the image. Aesthetic. When I am looking at the picture, I want it to have a great aesthetic and a concept behind it. That is the idea.

Why is color important in your photography? Probably because colors reflect me and myself. I always use unique colors for backgrounds and choose the right color. If I’m taking a self-portrait for a reason , then the color of the background has to reflect it.

Is it hard to come up with ideas for your conceptual photography? The big part of my work is to think of the idea, what I want to say, and then the photography. I think taking the picture is the most obvious part. So before this I have to think and see what has already been done, what I can say differently. Then when I have the idea I take the picture and explain it through photography.

What makes your photography unique? [Laughs] I don’t want to sell my photography like, “I’m unique!” No, I don’t know if I’m unique or not, but I hope that my photography is something special or different—that there is something you can look at and say, “Oh, I’ve never seen that.” This is what I hope, but I don’t know if I’ve reached that point now. But I hope that I will reach it. I always hope to be an innovation.

What techniques do you use that make your photography innovative? For innovation I don’t mean technique because I use a normal digital camera that everyone probably has. I am not interested in having the newest, latest camera. No, I’m not that kind of photographer. The innovation is what you put inside the picture. For innovation I mean like a new aesthetic. Photography as an art.

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Photo by Beatrice Mancini
Jewelry by Sara Amrhein

How do you come up with an idea? Every media influences me. If I am reading a specific book or a newspaper or something on the Internet that strikes me—like news, music,  anything, even a picture—I will then think about the specific topic and say, “Oh, that is interesting.” I will Google it and search some or everything about this topic, and I will also go to the library searching for books. I want to do something about it, explain it with photography. I am struck by this topic, and I want to show how I see it, my opinion.

How does the city of Florence influence your work? I am most influenced by what I watch online in the other parts of the world than in Florence. In these days I am a bit influenced by creative people I meet in Florence that have new ideas. They’re all from abroad, they’re not Italian, so this is what I like because to me they bring something new, something different. Before I met them I was not influenced too much by Florence. I am not interested in the old type of art or Renaissance. Yes, I love them, obviously, but they do not influnced my photography—this is just what I’m convinced of.

Do you think it’s hard to create new art when you are surrounded by old art? Yes, probably. Not for me or for the artists that it is a problem, because you can create something unique and something different when you are in a place where you are surrounded by old things. But it’s hard for people to understand you. This is the biggest problem. Because you are doing something that people can’t understand. This is hard because you want to say something but they only look at pictures or images that are classical. It is probably harder for paintings than for photography. People are used to this type of art. They are open to contemporary art as it always has been … especially in Italy

Is it hard for people in Florence to know about photographers like you? Yes, it’s hard because it’s hard to promote yourself in an area where people don’t think you can be a photographer or artist younger than your 40s. You can be considered if you are older. In Italy, especially in Florence, this is what I think; if you are young or bring something different, then it’s hard to be accepted. I think that the people that can change this concept are people from abroad, like the people I met this year from CPiF (Creative People in Florence); people that want to bring something new and have the capacity. Like: “We are not Florentine, but we are here and want to change some things!” That is great, but it’s hard to change people’s minds. And in art too they like a type of art and it’s hard to change. Now they love art from the 60’s; for them it is new, but it is old now. And for these, I think it is hard for a young photographer to be considered. If I go to a gallery and show my pictures, they will say, “Yeah it is okay, I love your pictures—but you are young. Wait there and we will see,” [laughs].

Do you ever feel pressured to incorporate these more traditional styles because that tends to be more popular in Florence? No [laughs], not at all. I love to be unpopular. If people are doing a certain thing, I want to be different—always. Since I was young I wasn’t like a rebel, but I always wanted to do things different. It’s like an idea in my mind that I have to do things like this.

What is your vision as an artist? My vision is to do photography for a reason. I don’t want to take a picture without a reason. I always work in series, like thinking about a topic, studying it in a precise way, and then explaining it with pictures—using photography as a medium. I am always interested in aesthetic, color, and composition. Those are the three things I always want to put in my photography. Now this is my vision, but as I said, I change ideas really quickly, so probably in a month I will change my photography. In the last years it has been more or less the same, but I am growing as a photographer.

Do you think your ideas, like the one for your series Democratic Design that you had showing during Florence Design Week, are influenced specifically by Italy or Florence? They are influenced by the world I am living in. Not only Florence, but the places where I go. Democratic Design is influenced by the fact that I’m young and most of the people who are the same age as me live in a house with IKEA furniture. Everything in my life influences me or allows me to think about a topic. Also, the places where I go or the people I meet. My friends in a certain way influence me. The topic I always want to work on is where I live. The topics are always related to my age or what I am doing at this moment.

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Photo taken from the Democratic Design series
Photo by Beatrice Mancini

Do you think it is more important to look at current things or to look back at old things? Current things, always. I don’t want to look back. Every time I look back on my pictures that I have done, like two years ago, I say, “I don’t want to look at them anymore.” I want always to reinvent myself and my photography, too. I don’t like how most of the photographers go to look back at their series of their projects and continue to work on them. I am not that kind of photographer. I am taking this picture and then going forward, not looking back or working on something old.

How do you think historic and contemporary art influence one another? You have to look back in the sense of what they have done in past styles. I want to reinvent, be new always, yet I am studying the past when reading books or getting inspired by ancient photographers or artists. It influences me in the sense that I have them in mind, but I don’t want to do what they have done. We are in a different age.

Is it more important for you to understand what is going on nowadays? Yes, for sure. It’s more important what is happening now, in this moment, in my life and in the world too, in the news and in my life in a certain moment. I’m not interested in taking a topic of 50 years ago and working on it. I don’t like it. I want to live and work with new things, new things always.

What makes photography meaningful to you? For me, a picture is meaningful when the first time I see it I can say whether I like or not. Those are the first two things. And then I think if it is for all people. First if I like it, it is because it is really well composed or I like the picture or the colors or the lines. This is the main thing. Then if I like it, I think, “Well what is the artist or photographer wanting to say to me? What is the series’s names or what is behind the picture?” And if I like the topic too or the concept, then I love it. For me, this is what makes meaningful art and photography too.

What do you hope others understand when they see your photography? I hope that they understand that it is not only photography. I hope they don’t just say, “Okay, they are beautiful, I like it,” and then stop. I hope they look at them and it allows them to think about something. Not just looking and liking, but thinking, “Oh, she wants to say that, and explain that thing, not only make beautiful photography.” I think I can take the picture wrong or with the technique strange or not representative, but it works with the ideas.

What are your goals with your photography? I want to do artistic photography, but it’s hard to live with that, only art; it’s really hard. But after I want to change places where I live. I hope to go to New York or Tokyo ,and I hope that some galleries will accept my work.

What interests you about going to New York or Tokyo versus staying in Florence? I want to change places where I live to not only work in New York, but to stay there and send pictures there. I want to go there or somewhere else to change the ideas. I think my photography is influenced by where I am and what I am doing in that precise moment. Changing my life means changing my photography. Those things correlate.

How do you construct the composition of your photos, like in your Postcards series? I like to take pictures with a scanner because it gives the kind of idea that you are not closed; it’s a bit strange, it’s different. I always put the elements I put inside the pictures. They always make sense. I don’t put anything if it doesn’t make sense. It’s like symbolism. In the Postcards series they are self-portraits with objects from the past. Like my grandmother’s or golden stuff or colors like orange that reminds me of past years.

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Photo taken from the Postcards series
Photo by Beatrice Mancini

What are your tools and gear? I have always used Canon cameras. I started with Canon and never changed cameras. I changed cameras, but not the brand. I use Marc II Canon that I mostly use for big works. Then I love to take with me every time a little camera like PowerShot from Canon always in my bag so that I can take pictures everywhere. I have a tripod but I don’t use it because I don’t need long shutter times. I’ve got, I think, two or three lenses. The one I love the most is the 50 mm. I always edit my pictures. I’ve got the image in my mind and a bit hard or strange what I have in my mind to reach the final picture with post-production. Not really heavy post production but a little. Lines have to like straight and always minimal composition. And sometimes I didn’t put away something in the picture so I do it on Photoshop, like cancel something [laughs] and clean something always. My sister says you clean everything, even in pictures [laughs]. I prefer natural lighting always, but if I am taking a picture at night I use hotflash.

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