CHRISTINE SPENGLER, PHOTOGRAPHER
From Chaos to Colours of Life
During the pandemic, human interaction and economic activities were affected by the lockdown. When we recount this exceptional period, the lockdown may pause social interaction but it can actually become a break in time to inspire artists. Physical constraints did not restraint freedom and creativity for the well-known war correspondent Christine Spengler, as she proceeded with her artistic practice in Paris everyday on her balcony. With much pleasure, we had a call with her for an interview.
Breakthrough + "Re-": Hello Christine, thank you for accepting our interview. To begin, can you introduce yourself?
Christine Spengler: Well, my name is Christine Spengler. I am French, brought up in Madrid after the divorce of my parents. I have been one of the very few female war photographers of this generation. Recently, I released lyrical colourful pictures inspired by the Prado Museum and by my mother, Huguette Spengler, who was called "the last of the surrealist artist."
B+R: In the past few months, did you get inspiration during the lockdown of COVID-19?
C.S.: I must say that the lockdown inspired me very much because we had so much time. As I couldn’t take these huge planes to go obtain testimonies at the bottom of the world, I decided to create and try to do new things like painting! I painted the portraits of my beloved idols: Maria Callas, Frida Kahlo, and the French writer Marguerite Duras over my photos with acrylic and varnish. The action of repainting a picture makes them unique. During the afternoon, I spent my time finishing my new book, The Blue Man of the Desert.
Christine Spengler extends her creativity on creating colourful photo montages,
the photo montage of Christian Lacroix and her mother Huguette Spengler is specially created for our interview.
(1) Christian Lacroix, Paris, 2020. ©Christine Spengler
(2) Marguerite Duras, Paris, 2020. © Christine Spengler
(3) Huguette Spengler, Paris, 2020. © Christine Spengler
With an optimistic, positive attitude to confront this unusual lockdown period, Christine Spengler is looking forward and excited about her exhibitions which were affected and postponed due to the COVID-19.
C.S.: Personally the lockdown inspired me very much because I created a lot. But I was a bit disappointed of course because I had three important photographic events which have been postponed. The first one is Les Femmes S’Exposent, a photo festival about women. It will take place in Normandy, on a beautiful beach called Houlgate, where the festival asked me to pay tribute to young talented photographers. I will present 15 huge emblematic war photographies in black and white. This festival will last until the end of September. After that, my participation in a very major exhibition at the Tate Gallery in London will be delayed for several months. In this exhibition, I will present some Northern Ireland pictures I took in Belfast and Derry when I was a beginner in 1972.
Moreover, a signing session that would have taken place at the famous Gran Teatre del Liceu of Barcelona will be postponed as well. It is a gorgeous and well-known opera house in the city, where I was supposed to sign my books and give a colloquium about photography, especially about female photographers, to my readers and fans. All these events will be postponed but everything will happen soon.
The cover picture of Christine Spengler's autobiography, Une Femme Dans La Guerre (2006)
© Sylvain Julienne-Phil Warne
To carry on this hopeful conversation, we wondered about her future plans and her upcoming desires in her artist career.
C.S.: My best desire would be to exhibit my exhibition the “Opera of the World” created by the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Madrid, Barcelona, and China. Alongside, I hope my autobiography, Une Femme Dans La Guerre, (A woman in the war) (éditions des femmes, 2006) that already exist in French and Spanish, would be translated into English, so I could have great exhibitions in London and New York in the upcoming future.
Les Femmes S’Exposent - Photo Festival 3rd Edition
7 August - 25 September
Check out our interview with Christine Spengler in Re-Interpret here.
This interview was conducted by Yannie Hung in English.