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Jessica Lange: It Is Silence Inside That Helps You Find the Moment

„Working in film or on stage, being an actor, that is such a community. Endeavor. I mean, you are surrounded by people and the photography was just a way of having an outlet that was very private and very personal and I never thought of it in terms of, like, wanting to exhibit or to sell photographs or anything like that… In truth, when I first started, it was to, kind of, make a journal, a diary of my children growing up, and to do more than just kind of Instamatic colour photographs. And I wanted to do portraits of them. So that is how it started,“ the two Academy Awards winner told BTA.

In Lange’s words, photography is something private, personal and solitary. The actress said that after her visit to Bulgaria she will be on her way back to her cabin where she will be sitting on the dock or on the porch in a rocking chair, staring at the lake. „I can do that for the rest of my life and be very happy,“ she said.

Jessica Lang speaks to Dahnyelle Dymytrov of BTA about her start in photography, about black-and-white and colour worlds, silence, plans, paths and dreams.

You have been shooting since 1992. In an interview in 2009, you say: „Up until about two or three years ago I didn’t show my photographs to anyone“. Why? 

I do not know. I was doing it for myself. I was doing it because it is a wonderful exercise to complement. Working in film or on stage, being an actor, that is such a community. Endeavor. I mean, you are surrounded by people and the photography was just a way of having an outlet that was very private and very personal and I never thought of it in terms of, like, wanting to exhibit or to sell photographs or anything like that.

In truth, when I first started, it was to, kind of, make a journal, a diary of my children growing up, and to do more than just kind of Instamatic colour photographs. And I wanted to do portraits of them. So that is how it started.

Would it be difficult to play the role of a successful photographer in a film?

[Laughing] I wouldn’t know how to do that. No. But you know, sometimes I watch films and you see somebody with a camera taking and you think, oh, they don’t know, really don’t understand how to take photos, they don’t even understand the camera. But no, I haven’t thought about that.

Your photos are in black and white, but you yourself seem to have never acted in a black-and-white film. What is the colour of life around you?

No, I’ve never done a black and white film. I would love to. But what is the colour of life around me. Oh God, I don’t know [thinking]. I’m not sure I know how to answer that question… I’m sorry.

Have you shot while filming a movie?

No, I never have. I never have. I don’t know… The two I have always kept separate. You know, I’m not that interested in documenting the process, while we’re working in the film. I mean, I know some people who do that. Jeff Bridges, for instance, does that all the time and his photographs are great. But I’ve never been drawn to it. That’s never appealed to me to do.

Silence is an important part of an artist’s life. Is it the same for you?

Sure. I mean, that’s part of the reason I think I love photography is because when you’re on a set or when you’re on a stage, there’s this kind of chaotic life going on around you. And as an actor you have to find the silence inside yourself so that you can really concentrate and understand from moment to moment what is happening and not be distracted. But like I said, I think that’s partly the reason I was so drawn to photography during all these years I’ve been working as an actor. Because it’s so private and it’s so personal and it’s so solitary and the silence… But again, it’s the silence inside you that helps you find the moment whether it’s acting or whether it’s photography.

My next question was does photography require silence, but you just answered…

Yes, I answered. [Laughing]

Is it important for a person to have goals and plans throughout his life?

Oh God, I don’t know. There are certainly people who go through life just living it day-to-day and there’s something wonderful about that, too, isn’t there? Without having an idea of, I want to do this or I want to do that. So, I think it’s however you design your life, whatever is important to you. I love periods of time in my life where I have nothing that I have to do. It’s really great.

Are these periods long or short? 

Sometimes long, sometimes short. [Laughing]

Is there a path you would never take?

Well, it’s not that I would say never. But you know, there are paths that don’t appeal to me, films that don’t appeal to me, action movies, fantasy kind of comic book story. I wouldn’t know how to do those paths. So, they don’t appeal to me.

Have you fulfilled your dream of sitting in a rocking chair in front of a country house and looking at a lake?

Yes! Yes! [laughing]. When finished here, that’s where I’m going. So, after I leave Sofia, I’m on my way to my cabin where I’ll be sitting on the dock or on the porch in a rocking chair, staring at the lake. I can do that for the rest of my life and be very happy.

Is there a word that best describes you as a person?

Oh God, I couldn’t answer that. I wouldn’t know how to answer that.

How would you continue the sentence „I am a person who loves…“?

Who loves nature. Who loves family. Who loves acting. Photography. Travel. I mean, I could go on and on and on, but mostly it would be family and nature, I suppose.

Thank you so much.  

Thank you. Lovely to meet you.

About Даниел Димитров

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