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What Is It Like To Be An Art Graduate?

What Is It Like To Be A Recent Art Graduate?

Hi Andreea! Please introduce yourself and tell us what your work and practice are?

Hello! My name is Elena-Andreea Teleaga and I am a lens-based media artist, working primarily with photography. My work investigates photography and the relationship between this medium, landscape and hidden histories.

The work delves into the edges between experimental and documentary photography, video and cinematography. It also delves into philosophy and history, drawing and painting, dream and reality, surrealism and realism.

Could you discuss the reasons you chose to be a lens-based media artist? And what it signifies?

I have been fascinated by photography since I was 15 and the final outcome starts from this medium. But it can end up being something else like an installation, a space, a video work. The work doesn’t stop with the limitations of one medium. I like freedom in the process of making and photography has been the starting point.

from Land by Elena-Andreea Teleaga
8in x 10in silver prints and collage, 2015-18

How do you create subject matters and themes in projects you create?

I suppose observing and imagining the world play a major role. And I don’t necessarily mean a conscious observation process that leads to fantasy. It is something that I have been doing since I was little. The memory of my first painting sent to a contest when I was five comes very vividly in my mind.

There were two magicians with big hats and purple clothes. I am not sure where the subject came from, but since then I had this feeling when making work. It’s a feeling that I invoke every day and every time I make work. It’s very difficult to describe it. But I assume it brings with itself an unconscious way of creating. This includes things like my background, my childhood, the films I wasn’t supposed to watch at a very young age like X-files, the fairy tales I’ve been reading and my feelings towards the world at different times.

Later on, when I started studying things like history and philosophy. I could link these with concepts, but I feel that sometimes they can limit the understanding of the work.

In terms of networking, how do you work with fellow artists and creatives? Recently, you collaborated with another creative to do a virtual exhibition/event?

My last exhibition which included the work “No return To comfort zone” (2019) was part of an event created by One Project, a creative duo made from Magdalena Zoledz and Marta Grabowska, which celebrated the Slow Art Day. Due to the pandemic, the event took place on Zoom, which made the experience unique and special. It was very interesting to see at the beginning of the quarantine how these collaborations would take different shapes. How online meetings and exhibitions would take place and adapt to the new circumstances.

The Buffon by Elena-Andreea Teleaga
mixed media installation: altered instant film, heels, 35mm slide monitor and 35mm slide, 2019

Previously, I suppose my experience at the Slade School of Fine Art and at Sarabande Foundation opened up numerous opportunities to meet people and create connections in the field. Studying for two years, I have inevitably met a large number of artists.

Making work in the same space led to influencing each other, working together, helping each other, listening and sharing with each other. Creating these connections is a long process that involves an organic growth which was provided by inhabiting and making work in the same space.

You studied at the Slade School of Art, what was the experience like for you? What one thing did you take away with you after graduating?

Studying at the Slade was a vital point in my career as an artist and a very important moment in my life as a person. It was a complex experience where I found amazing people, where my art works and myself were challenged, where I laughed, I cried, and I learned what kind of artist I want to be.

Even if I only graduated a year ago, I am still processing a lot of the things that happened there and it’s hard to pick just one. Maybe it’s the great people I met there and the relationships we created.

You recently been offered the Sarabande foundation scholar! What was that like and how was this opportunity awarded to you?

I have received the Sarabande Scholarship after being admitted to the Slade. This is another overwhelming moment in my career because, without it, I wouldn’t have been able to enrol in the course at the Slade and make the most of it.

Therefore, I don’t think I have enough words to describe how grateful I am that they made my dream come true and tangible.

For this scholarship I had an interview, where one of the members of the panel was Matthew Slotover. He was the one to decide the awardee. The opportunity itself has been life changing. The support they have offered to me during these years is a thing that I didn’t know existed before.


You currently work as an artist whilst working a part time job. Do you have any helpful advice for artists out there? How do you balance the two jobs?

I would say a very strict schedule is the key to be able to achieve everything I plan for both. I have to admit I don’t have very much time off, but when I have, I don’t take it for granted. Breaks to refresh the mind are crucial.

I am re-evaluating the way I am spending the time every few weeks to adapt to the schedules according to the plans. I suppose sometimes it’s important to know when to stop and take a step back. Listening to what I and the work need and adapting the plans to those needs is vital.

At the moment, there’s a strong urgency to speak up about equality and diversity. As an artist, it is important to use your platform to address these issues. Do you think this is true?

I strongly believe that addressing these issues is vital to the health of our society. Inequality and lack of diversity stifle creativity and the arts. It is important to take a step back, research, re-evaluate the knowledge gained over time and share the new findings and conclusions.

Taking part in democracy means listening, being informed and participating. It’s amazing to see how artists with a wide reach used their influence for spreading truths and knowledge and the impact they had on the circulation of information. It is equally important for everyone to participate as much as possible and in the way they can.

Could you tell us what your day to day routine is as a lens-based media artist?

I have to admit it changes over time because I either have to adapt it to what my work needs, or to the schedule of my studies, or full time/ part time jobs. Now with the quarantine it has changed a lot. I am quite a morning person and I like working late in the night. No day passes without taking photographs, drawing, listening to music and reading. Every morning I prepare the plan for the day. It really depends if it’s an on-the-field or in-the-studio day. Either way, it becomes a juggle between sticking to the schedule but also adapting to the needs of the art work.

Untitled 001 by Elena-Andreea Teleaga
Digital C-type, 105cm x 84cm, altered with sandpaper, image from destroyed negatives, 2015

Any projects in the near future?

This is a tricky one. If you had asked me this question last year, I would have had a quite clear answer. But given the circumstances, I have decided to solely dedicate this year to making work, researching, gathering material for future works and planning.

Adapting to the new times can be at some point a full-time job, and because many events have been postponed, I decided to completely focus on making work.

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