Lebanese artist Lara Zankoul brings us to the edge of subtly surreal worlds where she visually dissects human feelings and our relationship to spaces. However, it is up to her spectators to form their own interpretation of what they believe they are observing. The elegant aesthetic of her works and their enigmatic aftertaste make her photographic universe an invitation to imagination and daydreaming. We’ve met her.
Hello Lara! Which path led you to become a photographer?
My passion for it, or even my obsession with it. I remember being a kid, looking at fashion photography magazines and dreaming about being a fashion photographer. I’ve always had so much attraction for the photography world but believed for a long time that I did not belong there. It was only at the age of 21, when I started my first job that I decided to buy myself a camera and things grew from there. I taught myself photography, and after eight years, I am now a full-time photographer, I own a studio in Beirut, and I couldn’t be any happier.
A bit mysterious but always in touch with human experiences… How would you describe your art?
Human emotions, and more precisely human psychology, may seem surrealist at first glance. But if we dig deeper, we start to decipher the meanings and the codes. That’s what I seek through my art, to trigger thoughts, to analyze the surface. My art is very personal; it is my means of expression. Every series represents my personal development and research in the topics that interest me most: philosophy, psychology, emotions, etc.
You photograph various topics with different atmospheres, but there are often geometric architectures in your pictures. Why?
So far I’ve created two photo series which were a mix of architectural photography and portraiture (“Strangers” and “The Maze”). In these two series, I was studying the relationship between the characters portrayed and space. The geometry mixed with the very colourful environment reflected a very passive aggressive feel. Lines, in opposition to more organic forms, symbolize the material world, which in my humble opinion, is very harsh. The lines would allow me to create obstacles and distance the characters further away from each other.
In general, in my overall work, lines would represent anything material, they create confinement and limits.
What inspires you to create?
Everything. My inspiration could come from a location, a light, a personal experience. As mentioned before, I am very inspired by human psychology, philosophical thoughts, my own life experiences – usually bad experiences drive me to create! But I’ve trained my mind to find inspiration in anything around me.
What’s next for you?
Like every year, I am planning a new photo series. I have launched the sale of my prints, and I will soon start an amazing online workshop that I filmed this month. It will be released in March, and I’m looking forward to it!