Iosune de Goñi is a writer, photographer and Ph.D. student in Literature in Burlata, Euskal Herria (Basque Country). Currently, a medical condition paused her academic research, but it did not stop Iosune from enjoying photography. For this series with the LomoChrome Purple film, she lets us in on her life, revealing her fears and insecurities, while inspiring us with her optimism and beautiful photographs.
How did you get into film photography?
I have always loved photography and I shot my first film when I was a child, using the camera of my parents on a visit to the zoo. However, I bought my first analogue camera, a Diana Mini, when I was 18 and started to experiment with multiple exposure and film soup at that time. At first, it was just a form of entertainment, as my creative energy was focused on writing, but it started to become more serious in 2017, after a traumatic event that took me away from literature and words. I could not speak about what happened, and I did not want to do it either. So I started doing little trips to the woods and other natural settings with my partner, and we took the camera with us. Photography thus became a refuge, a way to escape and overcome pain, but also a means of expression.
What subjects do you usually shoot? How would you describe your photography style?
I would say that my work is very experimental. My first film was full of multiple exposures and I started soaking film very soon (that's one of the reasons why I love analogue photography). I also love to shoot expired and light-leaked films and experimenting with chemicals and alternative developing techniques. At the same time, I am very interested in the shifts and variations that our vision undergoes due to our mood, health or situation, so I also like to experiment with it, comparing the photos I took in different moments or states. As for the subjects of my photographs, I usually shoot people (friends, family, myself) and landscapes. I also love travel photography, and my main interests are gender, identity, nature, illness, and the relation or boundaries between the real and the unreal. Photography, for me, is a way to create another reality, to explore other worlds. Sometimes those worlds are inside ourselves, like inner landscapes to be discovered or inhabited through creativity.
Returning To The Woods by Iosune de Goñi
I call this series Basora Itzultzea / Returning To The Woods. It is composed mostly by self-portraits, but there are also some photos of my partner, who is always present when I work on this kind of introspective projects (both through photography and writing).
These photographs are also deeply connected with my experience of navigating long-term / chronic illness. In May 2018 I contracted a viral infection which, in turn, triggered some autoimmune processes in my body. Doctors still can't figure out what's actually happening and I don't have an accurate diagnosis yet. In the meantime, my illness limited and almost led me to abandon my photographic activity. I couldn't (and still can't) leave my house, cook my own food or even have a shower standing up. I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to test the film when I was selected, but I didn't want to miss the opportunity to try the new version of my favourite film. And this autumn, between September and October, I had some luminous days in which I was able to breathe deeply, get out of my house and take a walk in the forest. So I did it, and I took my camera with me.
Basora Itzultzea is a series about a reunion, homecoming and an exploration of the self in relation to the other (in this case, nature). I used to shoot always in the woods, mountains and other natural spaces of the Basque Country. Taking photos was also a way to connect with nature, to be truly myself and leave all the problems behind. But illness took that from me too. I miss nature just as much as I miss photography. I miss myself. So taking these photos was a way to reconnect with that part of myself. I felt like I was coming back to something that was totally different but remained still for me at the same time. There is no unity between the forest and me in the photos, as it always happened before my illness. That unity has become a question, a symbol of uncertainty. Returning to the woods was a magical experience that gave me so much hope, but it also made me question everything. I was afraid of not being able to reclaim my life. Afraid of losing nature and art. But the truth is that now when I look back and see the photos I took, I feel so grateful and heartened. I know I will feel better, and I know I will be able to shoot again because I did it once. And I was sick. So I will never give up.
I think that the purple tones of the film increase that mixed feeling of hope and fear, so I'm very happy with the results. As I said, LomoChrome Purple is my favourite film. The first time I tried it was in 2017, and I fell in love with it. That version was a bit different from this one. Red and green colours had more presence, and I think that the new version has given priority to purple and pink tones, which are my favourites. The next time I shoot it I would like to soak the film to see how it looks like, what happens to its light and colours. I'm sure it will have a dreamlike effect. I also love the flexibility of the film, which makes it possible to shoot at different ISO settings, adapting to the light and environment. Of course, I will use it again.