Meet our first OpenWalls Editor’s Pick photographer, Francesca Pompei

Rome-based photographer Francesca Pompei is our first OpenWalls Editor’s Pick photographer, having been selected by our online editor Diane Smyth as one of this month’s best entries, and voted for on social media by our readers. Her work is focused on art and architecture, and she rarely features people in her photographs, with the exception of her father. Francesca is a member of the board of the Italian Association of Professional Photographers, and her photographs have been exhibited at events worldwide, from Art Basel Miami, to Frieze Art Fair in New York, and KAIF-Korean International Art Fair in Seoul. In 2016, her works were among the top rated entries to the Magnum Photography Awards.

Francesca entered OpenWalls because exhibiting in Arles has long been an ambition of hers. Her selected image responds to the notion of home, and captures her father at the Centrale Montemartini, which is one of Francesca’s favourite places to visit in Rome. Keeping up a long-held tradition of going on a Saturday outing with her father, Francesca cites these weekly trips as the crux of her interest in the arts.

Tate Modern, London © Francesca Pompei

Can you tell me about your background as a photographer? How and when did you first get into photography?

I first got involved with photography when I was studying philosophy at university.

Aesthetics studies opened me up to a different way of feeling and understanding the arts. It felt natural for me to focus my interest in photography in a more specific way. Moreover, the dark room has always appealed to me.

Can you tell me about the photograph you entered into OpenWalls? What is the story behind it?

Since I was a child, I have gone out with my father every Saturday, no matter what. We always look for galleries, exhibitions, museums, and architecture sites to attend, and sit drinking coffees and walking for hours. I am extremely grateful to him for having taught me his love for art and beauty, and we are connected by this shared passion, which works as an emotional glue between us. The photograph I entered into OpenWalls was taken during one of our trips at the Centrale Montemartini, one of my favourites places in Rome.

My work is focused on arts and architecture. In my photographic perception of space, the human being is practically absent. I don’t like to take portraits of anyone other than my father in dialectic interaction with places.

Paranoia © Francesca Pompei

Why did you decide to enter the OpenWalls award?

I devote many hours to inspecting the images of my peers and reading through photography magazines, including British Journal of Photography. I travel to international events as much as I can, and am very aware of the prestigiousness of Les Rencontres d’Arles. The opportunity to show my work during one of the world’s most important photography events, supported by such an influential magazine, was something I couldn’t miss.

What would it mean for you to exhibit your work in Arles?

It would be an amazing opportunity for me to showcase my work to such a significant audience, during one of the most relevant festivals in the world, and alongside other prominent photographers. Exhibiting at Galerie Huit Arles would undoubtedly be an incredible springboard for any photographer.

Broadway night #2 © Francesca Pompei

How does your photograph respond to the theme Home & Away?

This photograph is of the urban landscape of Rome, which is my home town, and the setting is very dear to me and my father. These elements, in dialogue with one another, summarize my feeling of home.

Do you have any advice for people entering single image contests? What should they think about when selecting a photograph to submit?

Nowadays, I think it is easy to take good quality photographs. The best advice I can give is to select images that are charged with a meaning, and are able to establish a dialogue with the viewer.

This is your last chance to apply to OpenWalls Arles 2020! Submit your work responding to the theme ‘growth’, and you could be part of a group show at Galerie Huit Arles alongside Les Rencontres d’Arles 2020. Deadline: 25 July 2019 23:59 (UK time)

Softness © Francesca Pompei
Beyond the glass © Francesca Pompei
Galata © Francesca Pompei
Over the top © Francesca Pompei
From the series Walt Disney Concert Hall © Francesca Pompei
The Kyoto station 2 © Francesca Pompei
The mask © Francesca Pompei