Conceptual - NOMINEE: Sonia Mangiapane
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Restlessness is a rejection of stagnation.
Growing up as a first-generation Australian of Italian heritage, & later living in the
Netherlands, a feeling of ‘duality’ has permeated my existence—being both & neither
simultaneously, not ever feeling one or the other. This feeling of ‘otherness’, of being a
‘silent observer’, surfaces in my work both in its entanglement with the medium of
photography as a whole & with my identity.
Over the last few years, using mainly analogue medium format cameras, I have steadily
been developing a body of work that explores themes of solitude, stillness & the
detached observer. In my commercial practice I work with digital capture for its speed &
predictability. However, in my personal artistic practice it is precisely the opposite
qualities (i.e. slowness, unpredictability) that I find so compelling & the primary reason I
still shoot with film. Informed by my own experiences of travel and migration away from
my homeland, my work seeks to embody my own sense of groundlessness, of
restlessness, of seeking solace despite the disquiet. Taken when I am moving, in
locations outside of my everyday environment, outside of the sphere of ‘home’, these
photographs are evidence of a process of contemplation & discovery—allowing me to
explore the psychological spaces between solitude & connection (to place). This elusive
psychological state, hovering between movement and stagnation, & often difficult to
express in words, comes into being in my work. What is the emotional space we occupy
when contemplating the past and the future during moments of solitude? How does it
embody itself in the environment around us?
This fascination with the notion of ‘place’ extends through my architectural photography.
I came to photography from a more painterly, abstract expressionist place, with an
understanding that colour & form can illicit an emotional response from the viewer. This
understanding of form spilled into my architectural work & further into my practice as a
whole—allowing these aesthetic frameworks to overlap & intersect with one another, to
find themselves in both the ‘built’ & the ‘natural’ environments that I document.
Architecture is evidence that people were 'here' & through my work I try to give a
building or project a story. My intention is not to fully encompass the space, but to evoke
the feeling of the space—a poetic understanding of the environment.
If architecture is about how people move through a space then my larger series of work
is how we move through the environments around us, through both constructed &
unconstructed landscapes. A minimalistic aesthetic & focus on composition, balance &
harmony through elements of design form the underlying layer that comes through in all
my work. Informed by my background in graphic design, I want to capture the essence
of our lived environment in the most succinct visual way possible & evoke an emotional
response in the viewer purely through composition or form.
Sonia Mangiapane (b. 1978) is an Australian-born photographer based in Amsterdam,
The Netherlands. Sonia has her Bachelor of Design, with a focus on Visual
Communication, from Monash University in Melbourne and a diploma from the Art,
Design & Photography program at Elwood College in Melbourne. Since 2005, Sonia has
been working as a freelance photographer taking on commercial work and developing
her own self-initiated projects. As a professional photographer her areas of interest are
architecture, spaces, art and design related projects. Sonia's art practice takes a more
intuitive approach to the medium of photography, extending her work of documenting
the built and constructed environment into the more ephemeral spaces that open up as
we move through the landscapes that surround us. Her current long-term project
explores themes of wanderlust, nostalgia and solitude using the static photographic
frame to explore the concept of movement and our sense of place. Sonia’s work has
been shown in exhibitions in London, Kosovo, Melbourne, and Sydney and published
widely in international design publications including Wallpaper, Domus, WIRED,
Monument, Architectural Review and The New York Times amongst others.