TIFA 2021 Interview with Francesca Pompei
1st Place winner in Architecture, Gold in Architecture/Interiors, “Stadtcasino Basel”
Francesca Pompei is a photographer focused on arts and architectural images. She is a member of the board of the Italian Association of Professional Photographers-TAU Visual and she is represented by the Galerie Bruno Massa in Paris. Her photos have been featured in exhibitions such as Art Basel Miami Beach 2012, Frieze Art Fair New York 2014, FOTOGRAFIA-Festival Internazionale Roma 2014, Art Fair Tokyo 2017, Architectural Digest Design Show New York 2018, Photokina 2018. Her works are on PhotoVogue, LensCulture, Art+Commerce Agency, Dodho and L’Oeil de la photographie.
Q: Tell us a bit about your background? How did you discover your love for photography?
I first got involved with photography when I was studying philosophy at university.
Aesthetics studies opened me up to a different way of feeling and understanding the arts. It felt natural for me to focus my interest in photography in a more specific way. Moreover, the dark room has always appealed to me.
After my apprenticeship in different fields, testing myself as a set photographer and a reporter too, I have understood that the architecture and arts photo was the area where I could express my cultural and emotional research in the best way.
Q: What was your last work and how did the initial spark of inspiration come about?
I realized my last work in Doha. The capital of Qatar deeply attracted me being the first Arab metropolis chosen to host the Football World Cup in 2022. Inspired by the fairy fascination of The Thousand and One Nights, I realized the series Sharada that is currently on show at the Qatar National Library.
Q: You were awarded TIFA 2021 Architecture Photographer of the Year for your witty and fun work, Stadtcasino Basel. How did the idea for this project come about? What is the most notable memory that you lived through during this project?
As for the Stadtcasino, I was planning my journey to Basel last Summer. I was anxious to visit the city and its amazing contemporary architecture landscape, especially the buildings realized by the local duo Herzog & de Meuron. Moreover, the restored Casino was closed just after its opening because of the Covid so my project could have been a good chance to spread a bit of its beauty. I contacted the administration and all the staff has immediately supported my idea for a photographic report and we scheduled it. At that point, the rest was on me… I tried to do my best and, in any case, the opportunity to have a concert hall all to myself has been a unique privilege!
Q: Which city is your favourite one when it comes to taking architecture photos?
I have not a favourite one. I see cities as a reflection of culture, of “human behaviour and human ideals”. By photographing the built environment, I document not only the landscapes of the country, but its histories, ideas and people. So, I can be interested both in the Baroque scenery of my hometown Rome and in a hyper-modern background like the one in Dubai that I’ve just visited for the Expo 2020.
Q: What genre do you enjoy creating in the most and why?
Architecture photo is my mental and narrative instrument to explore the reality. My aesthetic investigation leads me to decipher the human landscape dismantling the architecture structures, interpreting forms and time in a sort of perceptual itinerary made of essential fragments leaving room to the combined potential of the shapes and lines in order to seize the silent life and mystery of every place.
Q: What does winning this award mean to you?
The prestigious TIFA Gold Medal is a great recognition to the project and to all the efforts made to realize it. It is an amazing opportunity for me to showcase my work and to reach a significant audience alongside other prominent works. Winning the Gold Medal would undoubtedly be an incredible springboard for any photographer. Besides, with this award I would express my gratitude to the Stadtcasino staff who has been helpful and friendly from the beginning.
Q: What would be your dream project in photography if there would be no budget limits and you could travel anywhere, photograph anything/anyone?
Travelling anywhere would be a dream in itself, considering the Covid pandemic! Anyway, I have a wishlist of 16 countries in different parts of the world, so I would start buying a flight and ticking the first off!
Q: What would be the one advice you would give to novice photographers?
Nowadays, I think it is easy to take good quality photographs. The best advice I can give is to select images that are charged with a meaning, and are able to establish a dialogue with the viewer.
Q: Are you working on something new right now? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
I am just back from Dubai where I have been accredited as a photographer at the Expo 2020, the first in the Arab world. I have taken different materials working on the aesthetic dialogue between tradition and innovation. We’ll see…