NetChat Sessions: Simran Kaur
NetChat Sessions are weekly sessions where we talk to inspiring women in and around the Bristol community. This series offers the opportunity to hear the voices of inspirational young women in the industry, from entrepreneurs to artists- who are killing it btw!
This week's discussion is with Simran Kaur: surrealist still life and creative portrait photographer and artist. We discuss where her surrealist fascination began and why dreams influence her practise, along with the ever shifting ways people choose to present in online spaces.
What inspired you to get behind a camera and create photography work?
There isn't a specific inspiration which pushed me to get behind the camera. When I was a child, I used to take photos of the sky or the flowers with my dad's flip phone, but I wasn't aware of why I was doing that and also that was called photography. I was probably fascinated by the colours of the sky and the flowers, and I still have this interest towards colours as I use them to create specific atmospheres and convey emotions. As I grew up, I came to know about Surrealism, and I was fascinated by the idea of looking at what was not real, at visions, dreams or even a distorted reality. While I was studying about surrealism, I decided I wanted to explore it in my way by failing on purpose in order to create specific still life and creative portraits setups.
What’s your favourite project you have worked on?
My favourite project is most probably the one I recently worked on which is titled Between Dreams and Reality. This project explores the sensation of leaving your body to enter your dreams, but it also explores the connection between a dream and reality. People think that dreams or even nightmares don’t have any connection with reality, which is not true. What you dream is what your brain processes, and those information are shown in your dreams not in order which causes the dream to not have a logical sense but there are some things which are related to how you are feeling, about things that happened to you and many other things. Sometimes you might even understand yourself better from your dreams and not reality.
I love your blog ‘ Making mistakes’, as I feel like the culture of perfectionism intertwines with social media presence. As it is human nature to be flawed and lots of aspects of social media only highlight this false sense of perfectection. Do you feel like this way of presenting online is changing?
Failing and making mistakes is human, we all know this is common knowledge, yet we made each other believe that perfection is needed, but is not true. We all make mistakes in our life is just hard to accept them. I feel like the way of presenting yourself is slowly changing, as people are making their viewers aware that no one is perfect, I also saw more people talking about how making mistakes helps you to learn and that it is fine to fail, is fine to be imperfect and is fine to make mistakes. I personally create mistakes of purpose in my photography practice as I love creating dreamlike distortions to talk about some topics, and I also want people to be aware that there is no actually right way of doing photography.
Has your art practise influenced your photography projects? If so, how?
Yes, definitely my art practise influenced my photography practice in general not just some projects. I mostly paint still life, specifically sweet food or even drinks, as I’m currently working on this ongoing project titled Sweet Dreams which all my paintings are part of. While painting I feel like I’m revising the composition of the subject or even the colours meanings, which helps me to build my photography set ups but painting also helps me to explore the mixture of dreams and reality especially recently. The same thing goes to my illustrations and animations, which also helps me explore surrealism and grotesque aesthetic further. I do also create collages, and only recently I realised that creating a surreal set up with collages helps me to come up with ideas for my photography and art practice.
What is your motivation behind your work?
My motivation comes from my objective of making my viewer dream of a vision or even of a distorted reality which talks about specific topics such as mental health, environmental issues, about us. In general, if I think about it, I mostly talk about us, about our struggles as I don’t want my work to just be about me. I do also have some inspirations which motivate me such as Man Ray, Tim Walker, Elizaveta Porodina, Katja Mayer and many others.
Different things empower different women. Do you feel empowered by the work you do?
I feel empowered by the work I have been creating since it makes me aware of my potentials which I was not aware of before, but it also makes me feel like I’m creating awareness of some topics people only recently started talking more about such as imperfections or anxiety. From my creative practice I learned the power of people’s voices, if we want to do something we will do it alone or together in order to raise awareness about topics we need to talk about and do something to improve our society.
About my day to day, I used to constantly work but recently I also started planning breaks or a day where I don’t do a lot of work therefore I can recharge and have time for myself and not just my creative practice. Making time for yourself is important as you learn about yourself, you refresh your mind is like restarting your laptop which unfortunately froze.
When it comes to photoshoots, I usually brainstorm them to then create moodboards and sketches of how I want to set up my till life or even the model for my creative portrait photoshoots. I don’t call this a plan really since a plan is something you follow. They are more like ideas of what I want to shoot which I may follow or not. I do collect all my ideas in a journal, therefore when I need to go back to one of them, I can do it easily. I do also sketch my illustrations and body studies in my journal, sometimes I do also write little texts or even add flowers which I desiccate and then study as a hobby and only recently I started using them to create my Lumen Prints.