Francisco Gonzalez Camacho: Elsewhere
This week we have been looking at the work of artists who submitted projects during our most recent call-for-entries. Today, Francisco Gonzalez Camacho and I discuss Elsewhere.
Francisco Gonzalez Camacho (b. 1990) is a Spanish visual artist based in Helsinki. He is currently studying a Masters’ degree in Photography at Aalto University. His practice can be described as contemporary photography with focus on themes such as family, mortality and the connectedness between landscape and self.
Gonzalez Camacho’s work has been displayed both nationally and internationally, with a recent group exhibition at The Finnish Museum of Photography. It gained international recognition by magazines such as Fisheye magazine, and international photography platforms like Booooooom, which granted a photo book award back in 2022.
Follow Francisco Gonzalez Camacho on Instagram: @frangccom
Challenging the restless feeling of not belonging, otherness and the cultural constrains, the landscape has offered me a cathartic relief, shaping a renewed sense of connectedness with nature. Making both real and imaginary landscapes, I dissolve space and time, creating an interruption, an absence, giving a feeling of being elsewhere. Reality is suspended, reminding us we are just a small part of nature, united with it.
There is an invitation, seeking us to ponder and reflect, to create a moment of emptiness, a spark of consciousness. In all the nuances of simplicity the divine is revealed, helping us to understand the world through an act of solitude.
Photography becomes an instrument through which I can reveal not only the nature that encloses me, but the nature that reflects the landscape within. A silence arises reproducing a calm and precious universe, suspended in time, next to the world itself.
A transcendental space evoking an allegory of a place called home.
Daniel George: You write that this project considers the “landscape as a coping strategy”—in spite of feelings of displacement and isolation. I assume that this has something to do with your moving to Finland for your studies. Would you mind elaborating on how this work came to be?
Francisco Gonzalez Camacho: Yes, this work is directly related to immigrating to Finland back in 2020. Moving alone in the middle of the pandemic to an entirely new culture was a difficult process to adapt to, so I ended up spending a lot of time alone in nature hiking and taking photographs. It’s been one of my most active and creative periods. Over time I collected plenty of material, so the idea of putting this work together came naturally.
DG: I am interested in your use of both representational and abstract imagery in this series. What motivated you to vary your depictions of landscape, from more realistic to completely fabricated?
FGC: My idea was to use the landscape as a form of escapism, to create a paracosm. Now looking back at some of the pictures, I find the more realistic landscapes as partially failed attempts, being the more abstract and fabricated ones that communicate my emotions and state of mind more accurately. They are intrusions of my old, more formal ways of photographing, as my background is more connected to street and documentary photography. I believe I currently am at a crossroads regarding my own practice, slowly leaning towards a more experimental and conceptual approach.
DG: I think that many, including myself, find solace in the natural world—as it allows detachment from life-as-usual by presenting a different sort of stimuli and focus of attention. I’m curious how the landscape, along with your artistic practice, offers you a “cathartic relief?”
FGC: Art and photography are primarily a mechanism to deal with internal emotions and processes, a way to understand myself and the world better. Alongside art, the landscape and nature are for me a neutral space to escape to, a place beyond the human-made cultural constraints and societal expectations. Nature doesn’t judge you, it just is.
DG: Tell us about your process of creating these images. I was initially drawn to the pictorialist visual quality. What do you feel this aesthetic has to offer or say, particularly as it relates to this body of work?
FGC: Lately I have felt particularly drawn towards pictorialism, Japanese photography and a more minimalist approach to my practice. I think this has been heavily influenced by the vast presence of nature in Finland, and for being a country with a low population.
The images are made using an infrared modified point and shoot camera, which then I edit looking for a certain aesthetic. It was a process of extensive experimentation, which I am still going through. I intuitively knew that a regular approach to the photographing process wasn’t enough.
I am currently exploring mixed techniques, using digital negatives and traditional printing methods. I found the infrared to be a suitable choice for the project, as it allowed me to depict the landscape in a different way in which we normally see it through the human visible spectrum.
DG: You write that “photography becomes an instrument through which [you] can reveal not only the nature that encloses [you], but the nature that reflects the landscape within.” In what ways do your photographs accomplish this?
FGC: Through my photographs I am attempting to connect with an underlying language embedded into the landscape that I think we all can relate to. I am not entirely sure I have accomplished this, that is something I leave for the viewer to judge, but this was my original intention.
DG: Would you like to share anything about the Elsewhere photo book?
FGC: I self published a small edition of 100 softcover copies after I received a photo book award by the photography platform “Booooooom”. Besides this, I have been working on a handmade hardcover dummy book, which I would like to publish one day, even though it is a work in progress. I recently went through some portfolio reviews, and made me realise I still have a lot of work to do, but I am enjoying the process, which is afterall the most important thing. A softcover of the book can be found on my website.
Posts on Lenscratch may not be reproduced without the permission of the Lenscratch staff and the photographer.
Mariah Robertson in Conversation with Douglas BreaultMay 17th, 2023
Francisco Gonzalez Camacho: ElsewhereMay 5th, 2023
Photographers in Conversation: Wendi Schneider and Laurie LambrechtApril 29th, 2023
LUMINOUS VISIONS: CHUCK KELTONApril 28th, 2023
LUMINOUS VISIONS: SCOTT MORGAN: 10,000 YEARSApril 27th, 2023