everything is connected
The action is familiar if you’re in a coffee shop. You order something, most likely a drink and then your eyes roam around. If what you’re having is to stay, these eyes find themselves getting settled into their environment. It was while these actions were occurring with me, that I happened upon the corner where photographer, Fernanda Lenz took me to Brazil, Tibet and New York by way of one curated corner. Now, a look into her interconnected view.
C: So, while I was actually drinking coffee that I discovered your photography and might I say, it drew me in. Can you share a little about yourself as a photographer?
Fernanda Lenz: I’m a documentary photographer, mainly. When I thought about putting something together, I’ve travelled a lot, so you know it’s hard to present one project. And, since I’ve had the fortune to travel around the world. I call this exhibition Tendrel, its a Tibetan name for interdependence. I believe that everything is connected.
C: I believe that it is too.
FL: Its why in my photographs at Kave, I have images with like the hands of an old man holding a photograph, to mountains, rivers, the Amazon, Tibet and the elements.
It’s the human side, the animal side and the nature side – they are all there, it’s a sense of unity – everything is connected. But, I like interdependence – it’s really the meaning of Tendrel, the connection of all the phenomena. You can’t exist with out the tree and the tree can’t exist without you.
C: Your exploration of phenomena and interconnectedness is the pull I felt when I sat in the corner where your photography is. When you’re in the space, is something pulling you in or is it more of a reactionary action that in retrospect you’re able to bring the themes all together?
FL: I love to shoot people and the little moments of intimacy that you get. I like the person to look at my lens and I have someone’s eyes, right then we are communicating somehow. This is something that I love, even in New York and on the subway, people are in a public space and a private moment.
C: How do you navigate intimacy without being intrusive?
FL: These photos at Kave are all very intimate, in the sense they are places I spend a lot of time. The river and a beautiful sunset is in the Amazon, it’s a place I spent the New Years’ a few years ago. I saw the sunset two days in a row and it was about spending time and capturing how I feel about that.
With the elephants, it was in Indonesia. They were in chains and I was going there feeding them so I already had some connection to them.
C: And the couple?
FL: Oh, the couple hugging. It was also in the Amazon. They are two of my best friends; it was a beautiful moment of a goodbye hug. He’s from Brazil and Rosie is from Switzerland. They had summer – how do you say – a loveship. I was in the moment too, I can feel it and people love that picture because they can feel it too.
C: How did you approach the physical aspect of putting your work up?
FL: This is the first exhibition I’ve had at a coffee shop. I use to live in Bushwick, now I live in Bed-stuy. One day I asked the owner about doing it and he asked to see me work, I showed him and he said yes, right away. So for now it’s there and its good.
C: It’s so good; I think it’s also found itself a perfect little corner to reside in too. What does it feel like to be a consumer of a coffee space and your art is also in it being consumed?
FL: It’s really nice; it’s a space where people spend time. I love the culture of coffee in New York, you can spend time and we don’t have that in Brazil. Everyone is in silence working over a coffee for four hours and my photos are part of the day, its like being in a living room in some sense, its like your photos can be apart of peoples life each time they go back to the coffee shop.
C: How do you feel about coffee?
FL: I love coffee!
C: Do you have a preference?
FL: I like drip coffee, a dark roast with more flavor. I’m from Brazil. We have good coffee. Here in New York, there are always different coffees; I’ve been drinking a lot of Ethiopian coffees.
C: Do you feel like the coffee from Brazil here is different from what you at have home?
FL: When I’m at home I drink Brazilian coffee from Brazil. When I go to Brazil I bring bags of coffee here – I drink the same coffee that my mom drinks in Brazil. So when I’m out I don’t drink Brazilian coffee.
C: That makes sense. I’m curious, what kind of camera do you work with?
FL: A 5D Mark III is my main camera and I have a 35 mm fixed lens. On occasion, I’ll have a fixed zoom. Some of the photos were shot with a 35 mm Nikon F2, black and white film and that’s the beauty of the film, the grain is amazing. I like to have a film camera, I always carry it, it’ a good surprise.
C: How do you feel about the relationship of art and coffee to culture?
FL: Drinking coffee is definitely a time for a reflection – it’s expanding your mind somehow too. You’re getting your thoughts into something else. With art, its always my way, to see something that should expand your mind somehow and I think with coffee, it’s the same thing, its about expanding your mind.
For more of Fernanda’s work, visit her here.