Fresh from an MA at Middlesex University, Shima Gohrjinejad has been quick off the mark to make her impression on the world of fine art photography. Her ongoing series Instruments of Darkness – which tackles themes like mental health and the artist-model bond – is particularly powerful.
Models are captured in a bath of milk and water, their faces often pained, obscured in a sort of peaceful gruesomeness. Ghorjinejad portrays her models in a place between submerging and emerging. They are caught in an act of simultaneous birth and death. We spoke to the Shima about her practice, Instagram’s credibility fallacy, and the influence of life “in all its twisted glory”.
People fascinate me. Faces fascinate me. It is true that sometimes you really do not need to say anything, ones facial expression says it all. The individuality of a person intrigues me, their own personal ongoing story.
Q: First things first, why do you do what you do?
A: I have been a victim of ‘but you’re always happy’, ‘you don’t seem depressed’, ‘you’re just too full of energy to be so sad’, ‘you’re always smiling’, ‘it can’t be that bad’, I could go on. Mental health within individuals of all ages has sadly been stigmatised throughout the years. Negative attitudes and beliefs towards individuals with such afflictions, has allowed society to discriminate.
More awareness is needed, otherwise nothing will change. I myself held in so much majority of my life regarding my state of mind, and this project has brought out a side of me that I never once thought existed prior; I am more open to the conversation at hand, if anything I want to keep talking about it so more people will feel comfortable to also speak up, to speak out, to know they are not alone. I also believe people really need to tap into empathy a little more than what they are now. Everybody is going through something, it doesn’t take much to radiate kindness.
Q: What is your inspiration?
A: Life. In all its twisted glory.
Q: What is your creative process when you’re creating?
A: The series is not just based solely on the still photography; there are also other vital factors such as audio, moving photography and text. It all really begins with the initial interaction between the model and myself via messaging. This then leads to a human to human interaction where I travel to the model at their chosen location (the majority of the time it is their home).
We start off with a long back and forth, really getting to know one and other, in general, and concerning the theme. Then it’s us (the model and i), a bathtub full of water + milk, digital camera and a polaroid camera. The final process in that is finalising all material obtained from the shoot, photographs, video, audio and text.
Q: Which is your preferred surface for working on?
A: I don’t really have a preferred surface when it comes to photography; however my preferred concept is black and white
Q: What would you say is an integral part to the work of an Artist?
A: Personally, I believe it is not the same for all; however, more so than ever. I believe honesty with oneself is vital; something that I had to learn. You want your audience to connect as well as have a topic at hand to converse over. I believe that’s something I personally work for, to be able to connect.
Q: What artist inspires you the most?
A: Photographers that I admire and take some inspiration from are Francesca Woodman, Bill Viola, Robert Mapplethorpe, Lee Jeffries, Rineke Dijkstra…plus many more!
Q: What is the reason behind your use of people in your works?
A: People fascinate me. Faces fascinate me. It is true that sometimes you really do not need to say anything, ones facial expression says it all. The individuality of a person intrigues me, their own personal ongoing story.
Q: How do you know when a piece is finished?
A: When I can see myself as a reflection of the model in question, that’s when I know it’s getting there.
Q: What is your favourite piece from your collection?
A: I don’t really have ‘favourite’ overall, I have a favourite from each individual, and well, that would be too long for me to list as well as explain why!
Q: How did you feel when you did your first solo exhibition
A: I have not yet had a solo exhibition, its definitely on the bucket list. But the last exhibition I was involved in was with a group of very talented artist, from all artistic backgrounds. Whose work all revolved around the theme of ’Trauma’…so you can really imagine the powerful and inspiring atmosphere!
Q: What is the most rewarding thing for you about being a part of the Art Industry?
A: I have yet to see myself at my full potential within the art industry, however, from what I have experienced so far, no matter your creativity and background. The sense of community and allowing your art to really speak for itself, has been a very intriguing journey, in the most positive yet critical way.
Q: Is there anything that worries you about how social media is affecting the promotion of artists?
A: Credibility based on ‘followers’ and ‘likes’; I’m speaking of one social media platform, of course. But I’m sure it can fall in with all; its the ideology of, if the artist has more followers or likes on their posts then they must be more renown or better at what they are doing.
Q: In your opinion, do you have any advice for artists on how to manage their social media image? Or does it even need managing?
A: Do what you feel is best for you and your work. Not all art is the same, not all artists work the same, your art and your creativity is yours and how you share it is also on you. Don’t allow pressure or any social cues tell you how to portray yourself, let alone your work. Your love of what you do should not become a forced routine but derive naturally throughout the entire process.
Q: Are there any places where you feel Art and Technology really shouldn’t overlap?
A: I personally believe art is everywhere, part of everything, especially day to day living; As is technology, and will be for a long time coming. It is the way of living now, technology in every aspect, and in its many shapes and forms, is a way for not just artists, but for society to express themselves. So personally now more than ever I believe the overlap is needed.
This was Shima Gohrjinejad, for Art Plugged emerging artists season, Shima is an emerging artist to watch shaping the future of Art with her unique style of beautiful art photography.