Horia Brebeneanu: “Photography holds an emotional ace card that appeals to us all”

Horia is a long time analogue amateur photographer. One day he found a box type analogue Polaroid at a flea market. The camera was kept on display for some years, while he enhanced his hobby with a theoretic master in photography at UNarte. In 2011 he got the first pack of Impossible Silver Shade film and steadily instant film became the choice for keeping his personal photo journal. In 2012, his work was featured in a group exhibition organized by Impossible Project in NYC.

Interview by Cristina Hiraeth

1.Horia, with a certain vision for things you see around, what would be the five elements that would catch your attention for a polaroid set in first place?


As the Polaroid camera is a tool I use for a visual diary, I am usually identifying settings that connect the place I am in at that time with things I’ve experienced in the past. It can be something related to my interests/hobbies, can be a thing that has some unconscious meaning, or maybe I am just trying to find the commonality in the new place I am in. Most of time I realize back home that I captured small series that have a connection, and a personal filter applied, invisible maybe for others, but with meaning for me. We can call them selfish Polaroids, especially if they contain an emotional logic that only I can understand. Of course, everybody else is invited to make their own associations.

2.How does inspiration find you? Are you usually on the roads, settled indoors, or you just take the camera and look for it yourself?


Because I connect instant photography with travelling, I usually have to be moving to be in the mood for taking Polaroids. Most places have something interesting, if you are really keen to take a photo. Although due to the nature of instant photos, and the expenses they incur, it really slows you down in a good way. And you realize you are not in such a hurry to take a photo, and really look at what is around you and how you can fit what you see in the small white frame.

I also love photographing small objects, so if I am alone at home and the light is right in the room, I like to arrange objects I like and archive them with the help of the instant camera.

3.What would be your own keywords for the set that you present for Emotions in Motion? How far can you link words to your envisioned Polaroids?

Tourist spaces, affective memory, familiarity, emotional myopia, recurrent patterns… These instantly pocketable photos can contain links to many words, but for me they convey mostly emotion and archived pieces of moments I’ve been through.


4.What attracted you to be part of Emotion in Motion?

There are two sides to this…

I’ve been a big fan of the Impossible Project since its inception, and love how it evolved and survived. It is a great story of going against all odds, while keeping themselves relevant. And I’ve also invested in their early films, which were very experimental and moody, just because I thought, and still believe, it was very necessary to keep the company on their path to improvement.

Also, I am not living in my home country anymore, and when I’ve seen the appearance of Romanian Polaroid Photographers, I thought it is a great group that nicely combines one of my passions with a part of my identity.

From there the history has it that we had a first exhibition in Barcelona, and now this one in Bucharest…which makes a lot of sense. The theme of the exhibition links travelling and emotion, which is the setting for my Impossibles (in many ways, I guess it is more accurate to call them like that now, although shaking off the Polaroid denominations would take some generations), and the place where it takes place is embed in my affective past. I’ve lived in Bucharest for some years, and loved my time there. All the city’s contrasts and idiosyncrasies were pretty much appealing to me, and quite inspirational as well.

Horia Brebeneanu

5.For how long are you now linked to photography and how did that change your ordinary life?

I’ve always been borderline between my interest in arts and a very normal worker’s life. So photography came about as the easiest medium for me to express and keep some sort of a visual diary. It started around 2003 and since then it evolved up to a point when I even joined a master in photography, on the theoretical side. I’ve met some very interesting folks there, made friends, and generally helped me channel my interest in a more focused way.

And because I want to keep photography as a slow medium, and also because I like all the rituals and accessories it requires, I’ve only photographed classic 35 mm film or instant. But while digital is great at filling your hard drives with thousands of photos, classic photography, and even more instant one, will definitely fill your library, shoe boxes, and pretty much all available spaces with prints. And when you are on the move, like I’ve been so many times…makes you think more fondly of digital.

But then you just have to go through a Polaroid/Impossible filled album… and any doubts or regrets will be clouded by the magic and tangibility of instant photography.

6.How much different would be the real places where you lived or traveled to compared to how you captured them on your photos?

cuba 2 cuba

Oh, most probably quite different. Or as different as the next person will see them. This is the beauty of Impossible instant photos…space is re-imagined according to my own emotions and longings. Of course this can be done with other forms of photography, but the way chemicals form in those 5-20 minutes that is needed for the image to appear fully, is still a wonder in the sense that, most of the time, it perfectly calibrates to the emotional angle from which you approach the moment. As I’ve mentioned in the statement for this exhibition…the photos are dripping with lines that are recognizable as tourist space, but they also convey an emotionally myopic approach to travel.

7.As for an expat, how would you define home in a picture? How do you perceive home through the lens of a camera?

Home is pretty much all the flats, houses, rooms I’ve lived in through the years, and the people I’ve had around, no matter the country. But if we agree home is for example Bucharest, than most probably it will be a crowded photo that has too many things going on in it, but one that stills continues to fascinate and is instantly recognizable as being from that city.

8.Could you share your own definition of photography in present day world, where photography is basically everywhere around us?

The activity that we don’t seem to get tired of, the widest spread archiving exercise known on earth. Mind-blowing the number of photos that are taken a day! But still, even in these numbers,


Cristina Hiraeth is a PhD student in Thessaloniki

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