Piqued by his interest in visualizing the invisible, Portuguese artist Nuno Moreira has come up with a book entitled “ZONA” that centers on the “inward significance” Greek philosopher Aristotle alluded to when he explained that art’s aim “is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” According to an early review of Moreira’s book, “ZONA shows Moreira investigating in shadows and discovering new means by which to speak about thoughts and the realms of the psyche. The result is a sensuous, quiet and dark book, delivering images with a memorable cinematic quality.” Interesting premise indeed, wanting to learn more about this book and the process involved in its creation, Resource Magazine got in touch with Moreira and had this short interview.
Tell us what your photography book ZONA is all about?
ZONA is an artist book, it’s a limited editions of 300 copies and it consists of 30 black and white images and some text. ZONA grew out of a need to create images that represented inner conflicts. It’s difficult to describe what it’s all about, and I’m not even sure if I want to do that, because I think it deserves to be read and interpreted by the viewer. What I can say is that it is my take on what it means to be trapped inside a human body when the mind is so vast and delirious.
How did you come up with the idea of photographing this series?
It literally came out of dreams and questions I was asking myself at that time. Ultimately about gaining control over these states and thoughts. The dreams kept repeating about the same topics so I started by writing everything in a small notebook everyday. Eventually just writing about this was not enough so I started sketching and painting scenarios influenced by these dreams… After a while I understood the best solution was really to just give a body to these thoughts using photography. During this time I was also enthusiastic to research on Jungian psychology and dream-states so I believe that was pushing my subconscious to dig different questions and open some doors that are anyway already familiar to me since childhood. You know, when you frequently talk and think about your inner life and dreams those aspects start gaining a different importance. It starts gaining a wider dimension within you and that changes how you look at the world. The curious aspect about this series is that it made me realize how difficult it is to photograph thoughts. We all have different takes on what some concepts mean, if I throw you a concept such as “detachment”, how do you visually represent detachment? What about “closure”? How does “closure” look like? It’s interesting that we communicate using the same language even though we all have divergent mind-associations and emotions related with these same words. This cognitive dilemma was the main reason I wanted these photographs to be deeply rooted in reality – and what is more real and tangible than the human body?
Who are your creative influences in photography that played a large part in shaping your creative identity?
The stuff I like, the stuff I read and watch and research, is mostly literature, cinema or painting – and those people are all dead. Honestly, I dislike contemporary photography and find it utterly boring, I don’t think it has any soul or even some sort of poetry. I’m interested in photography (or art in general) that poses questions and takes me somewhere. You see, when I look at an image I want to be enticed by some sort of dialogue, and I can’t have a dialogue with a white wall. Or maybe I can… but it needs a proper context. Lately it just makes me angry to see photography exhibitions because I can’t believe what people are doing… I like classic stuff, I like simple stuff without much artifice in the way.
Describe to us your photography method/style?
Oh, there’s no method at all – I just shoot. And I don’t shoot much either. In this year, 2015, I think I shot 4 rolls of film. Can you believe it? I really can’t shoot if I don’t have my mind occupied with questions. So questions come first and then comes photography. Soon I will start shooting more regularly and developing work on a more consist basis, but to me taking a photograph is also writing and thinking, not just pressing the shutter button.
– What are you choice of photography gears? (camera / lens / accessories etc)
My choice is whatever I have available. I think the best results can come out of your limitations so I tend not to be obstructed by the technical side of things – the approach and intention is more important. ZONA was mostly shot using a medium-format camera. That was a new thing for me: it made me slow down and think more about composition (which was good for these images), it was totally unexpected since I was initially thinking of shooting everything in 35mm.
Lastly, what are you planning of doing next? (photography project)
Next is a series of book presentations in different places and some exhibitions will follow – the first exhibition is in March 2016 in Ermida Nossa Senhora da Conceicao in my hometown Lisbon. I encourage anyone out there reading who might be interested to go to my website – – or send me an email to get a copy of ZONA.