Rise Art Prize finalist Gina Soden captures nostalgic, texture-rich images of deserted spaces. From derelict asylums to deserted castles, her photographs capture the living decay of architectural ruin and the absence of human presence. We find out how the award winning photographer accesses these abandoned sites (with extreme dedication) and what her draws her to these forgotten spaces.
What is it that fascinates you about abandoned sites?
‘Fascinates’ is one word. I'm a bit obsessed if I'm honest. It’s hard to pin it to one thing. I like the emptiness and quiet.. but the adrenaline buzz of being somewhere I'm not supposed to be. I feel safe and calm in them, it soothes my soul.
I love architecture, and abandoned architecture is even more unique. A building style that may never be built or realised again, or something that was built as a casino but later used as a hospital during the war - I love the journeys they take and their history.
What is your process? Do you use a digital or an analogue camera?
My main process is digital, using a Nikon D800. But I have a nice collection of various vintage cameras, and I still love to shoot film. When I don't have a location hectic schedule, I bring my Bronica SQ-Ai with me, a 6x6 medium format film camera. It's beautiful to shoot with, the sound it makes... oof!
Is there any region in particular you love exploring?
Italy.... Italy stole my heart when I first went on a trip like this in 2013. The villas are just so beautiful, full of amazing craftsmanship and beauty.
The architecture is really unique and the light is also great! Felt like I have done my own strange version of a (working class) Grand Tour, bringing strange tales back with me each time.
There's a sense of narrative underlying each of your photos. How do you achieve that?
I think my obsession with symmetry and straight lines helps: everything in the composition is neat and as well composed as I can make it. I sometimes focus on certain areas to draw your eye into different parts of the frame, leading you around, picking out details and helping form a story or idea.
What are your aspirations for the future?
I would love to be part of a museum collection, and a huge (probably ridiculous) dream would be to have a solo show at The Tate Modern one day. I would love to start a new YBA movement with some of my fellow artist friends...
...But instead of a Freeze show it would be something like Freezing (in our studios). And maybe I’d have to remove the Y for Young by the time we're established. I would also love to do a few residencies abroad, take my work even further.