They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. And we believe in this! We believe that emotions, colours, light, and shadows can tell stories that fit between pixels. Hungarian photographer Angie Palmai, who is a creator at heart, in her souls and by vocation, also believes this.
How do you dance the tango with light? Is there enough colour in black-and-white photography? Where do borderlines begin? How many dimensions does a journey have? And how a project can follow you all life… we are discussing all this with Angie Palmai, a little after the opening of her exhibition in Sofia.
Fashion Inside: Who is Angie Palmai? Do you mind telling us about yourself in a way that only a creator like you can?
Angie: I like it when someone is being introduced with what they love to do, no matter whether they are a creator or not, and I would introduce myself in the following way:
I love iconic characters and stories, the aesthetics of the 20th century, biographies and photography, sea cities and the way of life in them, bold and simplistic architecture, ancient history and philosophy. In my view, they all merge into one style, into one taste: into the celebration of life, bohemian simplicity, sweet nostalgia, daring romanticism, passionate charm, visible emotions, and experimenting documentary vision.
Fashion Inside: curated by ATELIER is your creative studio, which you devote most of your energy to. Tell us more about its concept…
Angie: The studio is mainly focused on consulting services image making for different brands. Visual communication is the main field that we consult in and it has its manifestation in many different aspects: fashion, interior design, gastronomy, photography.
We look for, develop, shape and coordinate the characteristic features of the brand so that every communication starts from there, so that we can build up a thorough, harmonious and authentic image. We may also say that we cook well, we use quality ingredients in the right amounts and styles.
Fashion Inside: Apart from everything else, you are also a photographer. What does photography give you that other types of art cannot?
Angie: Photography can give an immediate image of the actual moment. But it can also give us everything else that we receive from the other art forms: it brings emotions and thoughts to the surface, it creates and connects new ones, too.
Fashion Inside: In today’s world, when we seem to be living a life on display, what is, in your point of view, one thing that needs to remain hidden and not shared?
Angie: It depends on every person where they are going to set the border of their personal life. The intention and the authenticity behind it is the most important thing in my opinion. Sharing whichever part of our lives just to get the proper feedback. Sharing if, of course, we want to, so that the others can take part in our experience. I believe in the borders that are invisibly set by aesthetics. I am glad that there are inspirational people who share their lives, although I usually tend to keep myself hiding. When I share my personal emotions, this usually happens through words. I love writing.
Fashion Inside: You are a teacher. What is the first creative skill that you believe the young generation should master?
Angie: As teachers, our job is to inspire, to spark curiosity, to show the way to students, to accompany them and to support them. First, we need to identify the taste and interests and then a means to express and develop them. Creativity needs passion and perseverance.
Fashion Inside: What is the curve of success? And how do you characterise happiness?
Angie: Success, in my opinion, is being able to make others happy with what makes us happy. Happiness is satisfaction – when I am proud of myself then I am able to love.
Fashion Inside: Do you mind sharing a bit more about The Journey Matters? How does this exhibition look in your viewpoint, as a creator?
Angie:The Journey Matters is a constant project. I feel like I started this in my childhood and I hope that I will never stop working on it. It is about discovering, about the world, about the road. About my own road and about the people that I meet along the way. About what I see. In a sense, it is a diary, but I do not describe what happens, but what I sense happens in the world.
The exhibition is a very small selection of my works. What I have brought this time are those different roads, places, people and impressions that I have somehow connected and highlighted on the background of the overall harmony. Part of my concept is to include photos made at different times and places, with different cultural relations – Hungary, Italy, Spain, Morocco. I also wanted to merge documentary, landscape, still-life, portraiture, and fashion photography.
Fashion Inside: One of your ways of expression is the so-called format visual essay. It is not that new, it seems like it is not so popular with the general public. If we accept the fact that with the classic essay the most important this is the words, then how do you successfully narrate a wordless story?
Angie: Perhaps this formulation is not so common in everyday life, even though we use it quite often. For example, a good film is also a visual essay, told in pictures. It can express a particular mood, its colours, editing, style, and characters can intensify feelings and thoughts. The visual essay leaves room for the viewer to react personally and to complete what is seen. This way they become both an observer and a partaker in the story. Had I started going in a different direction, I might have become an actress or a director.
Fashion Inside: The majority of the photographs shown at the exhibition are black and white. Why did you decide to strip them of any colour? And isn’t black-and-white photography more difficult both to create and to assimilate?
Angie: Colours may add to the image, but they may also divert the attention. I often evaluate the quality of a particular photograph when I see it in black and white only. I see the aesthetics better without the colour. To express the correlation between them, however, I like using colour, too.
Fashion Inside: What is one thing that you dream of photographing? And one thing that you never would?
Angie: What I would like to: people and stories. Beautiful and genuine. Ordinary and extraordinary at the same time. What I wouldn’t: vulgar, artificial and shocking things. Tragedy and cruelty.
Fashion Inside: What does Angie do when she is not devoted to the working process? Do actually true creators ever relax?
Angie: In my opinion, always and never. We create.
There is no working time, weekend or retiring age. I would like to continue creating at the age of 95. If we speak about chilling out, I derive pleasure from dancing, cooking, family and friend gatherings. Delicious food, books, films, lectures and elevating conversations. The thing I encountered several years ago and today is the genuine way for me to unwind is the tango. The world of dance has become a part of my life, together with everything else that is connected to it: physical, spiritual, philosophical and social values.
Fashion Inside: And to conclude – if it is true that photographs are instant memories and messages to the future, then what is the message that you want to bequeath to the future?
Angie: To find ourselves. Our own, peaceful, loving and confident self. Regardless of family roots, past, religion, country, culture, or society. To be brave enough to become part of the world, to join in, and to act. Serve it with our knowledge and look for our mission. Let’s love.
If you, too, want to see the ordinary and extraordinary moments, captured by Angie Palmai’s camera, then her exhibition The Journey Matters was opened on 22nd January to honour the Day of Hungarian Culture and will be on display at the Hungarian Cultural Institute until 22nd February 2020.
Interview: Annie Georgieva
Photos: The Journey Matters – Angie Palmai