Luisa Lambri opens a window into her soul
Shooting Space photographer makes herself comfortable in other people's homes - then photographs the results
Though she never appears in them, Luisa Lambri's photographs are, in a way, a form of self-portraiture. The Italian born, Los Angeles-based artist's photographs of iconic residences by the likes of John Lautner, Richard Neutra and Louis Barragan, focus on the overlooked elements of a building's interior (rarely the exterior). In her photo series you'll see the passing of the day marked, not so much by Lambri's finger on the shutter, but by her hand on the items within a space, as evidenced by the opening of a door here, a tightened window blind there.
By subliminally bringing her pysche to bear on a space, Lambri encourages us to think about the concept of the ideal home and how it is different or, in some way, similar for all of us. By doing so she truly represents the artistic response to a space, something that's key of course to our new book Shooting Space and the current exhibition at the Barbican, London, Constructing Worlds - both of which boast work by her.
"The truth is that I’m very much an outsider," she told us when we caught up with her at the Barbican, recently, "especially as far as architecture is concerned."
"I don’t come from an architecture background and I’m completely self-taught as far as photography is concerned, so I approach it intuitively and personally. Mine is more a diagonal approach. I think of architecture purely as homes and private residences of which I photograph the interiors. It’s that specific and it has a lot to do with notions of identity and travel more than architecture and photography. So it’s very much part of my personal, rather than an architectural, history."
Lambri considers herself lucky that her family allowed her to travel alone from a young age. She always took a camera with her. "For many years when I was visiting these houses that I'd seen in books and liked so much I photographed them but didn’t even process the film, I just wanted to go there and take pictures."
For Lambri, her photographs are manifestations of an imaginative process in which she believes she has moved into the house in question, lives in it or maybe even owns it. The photographs she makes are her ways of making the space her own. Along this rather particular journey the standard architectural definition of 'the ideal home' is analysed, questioned and occasionally stretched way beyond any recognisable shape.
“I very often take sequences of pictures in a way so that the images reflect my position in the space, or the movement, or my actions. For example I may open windows to establish a relationship with them or to relate to the space. It’s a physical thing, It’s a simple, beautiful thing to open a window and let some light in, and that very simple gesture is enough to somehow really make the place you like look more like you. So it’s about this relationship and dialogue with the images with architecture, with people, and with myself."
"For me it’s about finding home somewhere else, finding an ideal home," she says. "I saw all these houses in books (as a student) and I knew that I wanted to go there. So my work is a dialogue between images and reproductions and how they can affect you and how you might find your own place there. It’s my history meeting the architect’s history, meeting the owner’s history. I really appreciate those histories coming together on so many levels and becoming one. To me the ideal home is abstract, distant, far away but also somehow very close to you."