Interview with Photographer Lina Torres for her series "Revealing Faces"

by Jen Burkett

We were so excited to discover the surreal photographs of Lina Torres! Her work evokes in us a sense of mystery, irony, humor and a balance between levity and rootedness. Viscera will continue to represent Lina and her Revealing Faces photography series on our website. In March, we sat down with Lina to learn more about her history as an artist and what the meaning of this series is to her.

Jen: Tell me about yourself, what’s your story?

Lina: Well, I grew up in Colombia, I’m from Bogotá, all my family lives there. I started studying journalism in Colombia. But then I was working, and doing both things at the same time. But I felt that I needed to do something else because the work that I was doing wasn't the work that I wanted to do. I was studying, but I didn't have the full time for that. Then I met my husband, and we decided to move here. That’s when I started studying photography, because that was something that I really wanted to do always. So that's how everything started. And we have a son so now he’s like my moto for everything I’m making.

Jen: I didn't know you had a background in journalism. Is there a connection between your photography and your interest in journalism?

Lina: I'm always very curious like an explorer, and I like to travel. I like to get to know different cultures. So I think that's why I also like a lot of street photography, and documenting people and their lives and when you travel, you just want to photograph everything. The people, the colors, the architecture. So I think that's related to journalism in a way, documenting and knowing story and cultures, backgrounds. And I think that's part of being a photographer and journalists doing the same thing. I never wanted to be in a news station or something like that. I’m kind of shy so I prefer to be behind the camera just looking and observing the world.

Jen: Tell me a little bit about this series that you created, Revealing Faces, because it tells us a little bit more about you and your inner world in some ways.

Lina: Last semester, I was exploring my fine arts side in a class and the teacher really inspired me to do things that were more about my personal and inner life or what I feel. And I am always very aware of my dreams. When I wake up I am always thinking like, Oh, I dreamed this or I dreamed that or I see something super, like surreal and I always tell my husband the dreams.  And I wanted to do something surreal, because I'm only feel very inspired by the Surrealist artists like Dali or Magritte. Yeah, I always fell in love with their work. And when I was doing these photographs, I first had to do an assignment that was related to or inspired by an artist. So I chose Magritte and the Keys, that famous painting with a couple with some cloths on their heads and they're kissing with a sky background. So I wanted to do this, but with my style, using photography. And I did that and everyone in the class was like, wow, this is really cool. And then we had to do a final series for this class. I wanted to do this kind of photography, but trying to reveal phases with not only like the cloths but materials, textures, colors, shapes. Things that are just around ourselves all the time we used to robe our heads. And I was thinking at the same time that I have a lot of dreams that when I wake up I know it was my mom or I know it was my grandmother in my dreams but when I’m trying to see them the faces are blurry or dark or you just can't see them. It’s super strange. But you know that they're really, people you know, you know their faces, you know everything. So, okay, let’s try to rebuild the faces with those new materials and textures, but in the photos. And of course, I was using the sky as a background because I love skies, I always feel inspired by the skies.

Jen: You grew up in Colombia and now you live here. What do you find inspiring about Oakland, or the Bay Area?

Lina: I love how diverse people are here. I feel like the people that live here are all people that you can’t find anywhere else. There are very unique people. I don't know how to explain it, but I feel like everyone has an artsy side, that everyone is so chill and open. I love that, I absolutely love that.

Jen: Do you prefer analog or digital?

Lina: I'm more digital. Yeah. I've been shooting film for school. And I really like the idea of going to the darkroom and the process and how you can change things. But it's time consuming. And I don't have that time. So I think that's one of the of the problems and I'm not shooting with film. It's just, more time consuming, right? Like digital is just like you, your computer and you're maybe editing for the show and it’s kind of easier for me. But yeah, I wish I could do more film for sure.

Jen: Where does the word Phlinix from your website come from?

Lina: So PH is for photographer or photography. And Linix is like my name is Lena but everyone back when I was younger called me Linix. I don't know why but it was like a nickname. Also Lina Torres was taken on Instagram so I said let’s go with Phlinix.