After Nyne x Photograph on a Postcard: Nine Minutes with Alixandra Fazzina

For the latest of After Nyne’s Photograph on a Postcard series, in support of Art on a Postcard’s latest project at Photo London, After Nyne meets photographer Alixandra Fazzina

Fazzina was born in East London but spent much of her childhood in the Netherlands. She studied fine art at the University of Bristol, and in 1995, before she graduated, was appointed as an official war artist in Bosnia. While there she developed her interest in photography, and spent much of the next seven years working in Africa. In 2008 she had an assignment in Afghanistan and then decided to base herself in Pakistan

What made you want to be involved with Art on a Postcard’s projects?

Although I was drawn by how Art on a Postcard is a dynamic platform that really seems to get people excited, what absolutely compelled me to take part was that it supports the Hepatitis C Trust.
When I was approached to take part in last year’s exhibition, it happened to be on the same day that my friend and colleague from NOOR, Stanley Greene, had died from Hepatitis C so it of course felt rather timely and profound. It’s great that art and photography can draw attention to a deadly virus that few people are aware of.

What have been the standout memories to date in your career as an artist?
My memories are most engrained with the people I meet when producing my work. I feel incredibly privileged that my practice has drawn me into so many lives, homes and hearts that I would never have otherwise have been part of.
My proudest moment was being recognised as a laureate of UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award. In it’s history, I’m the only artist or photographer to have ever received the award that recognises a commitment to refugees.

Where do you find your inspiration?
In the world around me. Although festivals such as Photo London offer a great chance to see work and are a good barometer of the industry, I take my personal inspiration from as many different sources as possible.
I often find that non-visual mediums such as a book or the radio provide the best sources of inspiration for my work as they force me to consider or want to know what something might look like. It can often however be the smallest things that lead to the biggest bodies of work.

What would be your dream project?

Something that I know nothing about yet. I love to investigate things and so my dream project would definitely tackle a subject that would shed light on a topic that is as yet uncovered.

What can you tell us about your work for this year’s Photography on a Postcard?

The image I submitted for this year’s Photography on a Postcard is very new.  I’m in the process of editing work I just made in Somalia documenting Yemeni and Somali refugees escaping or being evacuated across the Gulf of Aden. The subject matter is in many ways the reverse of the work I had made previously for my book “A Million Shillings” and it’s extraordinary how people are now literally jumping ship from one war zone to another in the region.
The photograph I have chosen of Asm’han stands out for me. I had met her mother in tears that morning at a counselling session. She was in Somalia alone with her nine children and like so many of the female headed households I spoke to, was struggling to cope. I had arranged to go to her house and was instantly overwhelmed by the family’s love of the colour blue which permeated every aspect of their lives in that one room; from their clothes to the furnishings. When working with refugees I often find something small from a past life or a family trait that stays strong in order to hold a new life together but here there was no need to discover anything. A woman, her eight wonderful daughters and her son had simply wrapped themselves up in a colour.

What have you got planned for the rest of the year?

I’m about to head back to the Horn of Africa to continue work on my project. The narratives of journeys in the region are very complex so I may potentially continue through the year and it will of course depend on how the situation in Yemen continues to develop. I used to live there so I am naturally drawn towards trying to collate some of the stories of war since so few are being told. 

Image © SKISS 2015.