Sofia Roncayoli Lombardi, an Argentinean student, now lives in China and studies Chinese language in Jilin University. The way she shoots in her work “Images of China” is by no means an “artistic” one, but these pictures profoundly reflect the “Chinese Scenario.” Through this interview, we would like to show her life in China and her interest for traditional Chinese culture. And in the last part, she has shared some foreign photography websites with us.
Photointer: How long have you been living in China? Why did you decide to come to China and what do you do now?
Sofia: I’ve been living in China for three years. At first, I came to China because I wanted to improve my proficiency in Chinese language. Now I’m studying a master program in Chinese Language Teaching. Besides studying Chinese, I also enjoy photographing and painting, through which I hope to document my life in China. These have already become part of my life.
I always use a camera that my grandfather gave it to me as a present, it is a Minolta 9000 from 1984. This year i started to use black and white film and i learned how to develop it by myself.
Photointer: What is your major concern and theme of photographing during your stay in China? Which part of Chinese culture interests you most?
Sofia: I enjoy walking through streets while taking pictures, namely the “street pictures.” In China, I’ve found it really interesting to see the daily scenes of common people. I like to interact with them and capture these moments in a natural way.
In my pictures, I grasp the moments of people playing poker and Chinese chess, eating sunflower seeds, dancing in the parks and practicing tai chi, etc. I’m also interested in Chinese calligraphy and traditional painting, especially the cursive script (Caoshu) and freehand brushwork of traditional Chinese painting. These artistic methods fascinate me and give me a sense of freedom.
Photointer: I believe you have some knowledge of Chinese photographers’ work. In your opinion, what are the major differences between Eastern and Western photography?
Sofia: In whatever respect of photography, I am still an amateur, far from being a professional photographer. But in my opinion, globalization makes the increasing exchange of ideas possible between Eastern and Western and thus photography is also being influenced. The ideas that Western and Eastern photographers show in their pictures are becoming closer. In a few years, there will be no big difference between both of them. The problem is becoming bigger.
I prefer to capture unique and meaningful moments. From my point of view, photography demonstrates the relation among human, time and space, just like a dialog among them. My pictures try to express the dialog among the three and camera is only a tool. I believe that many photographers also think in this way.
Photointer: Is it intentionally designed that some of your photos show a sense of history?
Sofia: I use only films. If I take black and white pictures, I develop them myself. For me developing films is a process to which I fully devote my heart and patience. It is a mysterious and fascinating process through which one can feel the art of photography and enjoy this mystical moment when the images emerge.
Photointer: Through what channel do you get to know the development of Chinese photography? Do you attend any foreign photography group in China? Could you please share some information with Chinese photographers who hope to communicate with foreign photographers?
Sofia: My boyfriend is a Chinese architect and also photographer. It is he that always offers me the information about Chinese photography. Also, he recommends the works of Chinese photographers, especially those of contemporary artists. With some artists we establish a WeChat group in which we exchange information and share our works.
Photointer: Please introduce some websites you are interested？