Interview: Danielle Vorster
Photographs: Mia Louw
“I am a fourth year fine art and photography student at Stellenbosch University, interested in the automatic transformation, manipulated by nature.” – Mia Louw
Archetype: How old do you feel?
Mia Louw: 21 although I am 22.
A: Tell us something about yourself in one sentence.
ML: I write like a cowboy.
A: You are a fourth year fine art student at Stellenbosch University, and you specialise in photography. Has photography always been an interest?
ML: More or less. I have always been taking photographs but not obsessively, I hate taking pictures at events or parties, it makes me feel removed from the space. Last year I mostly worked with mixed media and lithography. It was during a photography workshop that my passion for photography was awoken. I worked in the studio doing portraits of Elsje, my dear friend who is a beautiful subject. I enjoyed working with the camera but felt that the studio light was too harsh and artificial and decided to go and explore intimate and outside spaces using natural light. When I moved away from the studio I focused my attention on desolate spaces with only traces of humans but never as the main subject.
A: In your collaboration with Isabella Kuijers, you focus on liminal space as being transitional, can you elaborate?
ML: Isabella and I thought it could be interesting to combine our work, purely because our interests are so different. I admire her quirky style and her brilliant use of watercolour. Unlike Isabella’s watercolours, my photographs focus on the literal – documentaries and real life stories. Both of our work focusses on the in-between spaces, spaces not normally shown. The liminal space is a space that could become anything. We felt that our work formed a whole even though we used completely different techniques. The transition between our work captured a new liminal space. We are both interested in the assembling of images from abandoned spaces, therefore provoking feelings of nostalgia.
A: Tell us about your favourite shoot or muse?
ML: I’m obsessed with shooting the Turkish Baths in Longstreet. The Turkish murals, the plants reaching down from the ceiling, and watching people swim in the bright blue pool. I find the space therapeutic.
A: What do you love about being a photographer?
ML: I love to document and to reflect. I feel like I can say a lot through a photograph all though I still have a lot to learn about the technical ins and outs of the camera. I enjoy the curating process and when I show my work I try to incorporate the space in which it is shown. I enjoy the accessibility of photographs, people can relate to it and even be inspired to take their own.
A: What camera and equipment do you use?
ML: I enjoy using and experimenting with different cameras, digital and film. I mostly use my Canon 600D for my colour photography and the department’s film camera a Nikon F80 for my black and white work. Last week I experimented with my lecturer’s Mamiya single reflex camera, a 6 x 7 cm format. The film I develop in the Art Department’s dark room.
A: Does colour impact your work, and why?
ML: Yes definitely, I use digital to shoot in colour and film to mostly shoot in black and white. I use colour in my work to provoke a different mood. For example in my Turkish Baths series part of the success lies in my use of colour. In my work, black and white photography enhances the feeling of desolation and quietness, I use colour photography to enhance reality.
A: If everything had to be one colour….
A: Fridays or Sundays?
A: Any favourite local hangouts/ restaurants?
ML: To walk or run along Sea Point promenade is probably one of my favourite things to do in Cape Town. Another is going to the Labia on Orange where I have had many magical film experiences. I enjoy any kind of food market and was really impressed with the recent Cape Town Street Food Festival in Woodstock as well as the new Oranjezicht organic market and vegetable garden! Great to see how innovative people of all ages are. As far as restaurants go, I like a good burger joint, some of my favourites are, Royale Eatery and Hudsons in Cape Town and 5 Ryneveld in Stellenbosch. One can also never go wrong with fish and slap chips, hmm, delicious!
A: Any favourite performing artists/bands?
ML: I always go blank when people ask me this! What immediately comes to mind is, Led Zeppelin, Patti Smith, Johnny Cash, Alabama Shakes, Best Coast, Deer Tick, Eminem and my all time favourite artists are David Hockney and Annie Leibowitz. That sounds like a crazy bunch put together.
A: Complete the sentence: I never thought… ?
ML: …a future in the arts would be so daunting.