Born in 1991 Croatia, freelance photographer Glorija Lizde brings images of intimate depth in her striking personal photography series. We were particularly taken by her images F20.5 exploring the impact (as it were) of her father’s schizophrenia. In many ways the images and her works generally fall into catharsis. While Glorija Lizde is clear that she enters her projects to tackle subjects rather than catharsis, she is aware that the process of creating her images will inevitably lead to understanding and of course personal growth.
Tell us firstly about your own childhood life in Croatia and how it shaped you as a person.
I was born during the Yugoslav war (just after the breakup of Yugoslavia), so I was a first generation in this new country. The Balkans are a region of many ethnicities and religions so there is always a lot of tension and the war left many people suffering to this day. It was hard to grow up in that kind of surrounding.
Therefore, I started to research more about post-memory and decided to focus on my family and genetics. I feel like we are all born into something. There is certain kind of baggage already waiting for us. Through photography I try to tackle the subject of childhood and how our surroundings, genetics and trauma influence our identity.
Why photography and how does it fulfil or allow you to express what intrigues you?
I was always drawn to photography. For me, it has a beautiful balance between control and chance. My works are almost always planned and staged but I still want that chance and an unexpected situation.
I studied film and briefly worked on sets, but I realized photography is closer to my personality: it can be solitary, and I like the pace and the amount of control that comes when working alone. In my works I try to communicate through symbols and charge individual images with meaning. I feel with photography you can quickly decide what works and what doesn’t. You can change things, expressions, framing and achieve what you want in a matter of minutes.
Is your work cathartic?
Catharsis is not something that I aim for when making a new work, I am usually just curious to find out more about the subject I’m tackling.
When I was working on F20.5 it was only after many exhibitions that I realized it might have a therapeutic outcome. During research I came across photographer Jo Spence who uses phototherapy, a technique from psychotherapy and psychoanalysis and combines them with photography. She often photographed herself as her mother, recreating the clothes, the make-up, and the feeling to step into a sort of dialogue. While building a scene you are so immersed in the process that you don’t realize you are also indirectly going through a kind of therapy and ultimately a possible catharsis.
Talk more about F20.5.
My family always kept a large archive of videos and photographs so most of my childhood memories are influenced by what I have seen in those videos and photos. Of course, my father’s schizophrenia was not a part of the narrative or family album, it was not talked about, but it was inevitable I would explore this subject later in my life.
I came to conclusion that there are a lot of difficulties and traumas that I was not aware of. When we look in family albums, most of the motives are happy moments. Difficult and perhaps sad memories are almost erased. It was challenging for my father as well as for us and my mother especially.
I think the families of those who suffer from mental illness don’t get enough support and the right tools to deal with this.
Talk to us about self-image and how you discuss that in your work?
I am interested to explore the relation between our self-image and the image others project on us. For example, in my work Persona(l) I tried to comprehend ways my life is already predetermined. Self-image is a very layered concept; how we see ourselves, how others perceive us, how we perceive others perceive us. It is not always accurate. My work F20.5 explores how we internalize these judgements. When talking about self-image and mental disease we must ask what is this “normal” that we measure ourselves to, what is healthy behaviour in today’s society?
Tell us what you have next in terms of projects?
I am currently working on a project in which I follow my grandfather’s autobiographical book describing his experience in the World War II. His book was handmade, extensively illustrated with drawings, news clippings and photographs which he gathered through the years. I am photographing the landscapes which he describes and travelled through 1800 km of the war route in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia he mapped in his book.
It has been an interesting experience, quite overwhelming as I am now going through the acquired materials and figuring out in which direction should the work go.