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Interview MIKHA M.
Date NOV 2021

FEDERICA TENTI
      Human and London-based photographer Federica Tenti on nostalgia as a means to bring us closer home, and by appreciating the little things we can deepen our sense of belonging.

“One is always at home in one’s past..” writes Vladimir Nabokov in his book Speak, Memory. We can surely move to new places but we will always revisit home through our memories, a nostalgic act of healing in moments of homesickness, something that Federica contemplates while being away in London, depicting that nostalgia through her photography practice and longing rituals.

Federica was born and raised in Riccione, a town on Italy’s Adriatic coast known for its long beaches and serene sunsets. In 2009 Federica visited London on a small family trip where she fell in love with the city. “Once I finished high school, I knew I wanted to pursue photography and I would have had to move from my hometown anyway if I wanted that to happen. Milan didn’t really appeal to me, so I decided to give London a chance.”

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Riccione, Italy © Federica Tenti

“ONCE YOU STOP WISHING TO BE SOMEWHERE ELSE, THEN YOU’LL FIND HOME WHERE YOU ARE”

LFV: What were the challenges, and learnings you have experienced by moving to London?

F: Luckily one of my closest friends decided to join me on this adventure. Having her going through this big change with me was definitely a huge help because we supported each other in moments of need and it was kind of like having family around. We moved here when we were 19 so it was the first time for both of us to live on our own and not have to depend on our parents anymore and be in a completely different country on top of that. I consider myself lucky that everything sort of fell into place quite smoothly. Although I now understand how different England is from Italy, I’m actually surprised by how easily I adapted to this environment.

How does London, and its cultural scene influence you, and your practice as a photographer?

F: My photography has changed a lot through the years. The photography I was used to when I was in Italy was purely digital and heavily retouched. But studying photography at university here in London made me appreciate film photography much more, so now I only shoot analog and I try to hand-print all my photographs. I feel like that’s quite popular amongst London-based photographers at the moment.

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© Federica Tenti

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© Federica Tenti

“I STARTED TO LONG FOR ALL THE LITTLE THINGS THAT REMIND ME OF HOME AND OF MY ADOLESCENCE.”

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© Federica Tenti

Your photos convey a sense of sensitivity, connectedness, and warmth — somehow it’s like drawing on certain memories. How would you describe your relationship to your home memories and to the new ones you’re forming in London?

F: I’m a very nostalgic person and I can get pretty homesick sometimes. I started to long for all the little things that remind me of home and of my adolescence. All the places I used to love and hang out at and the things I used to do that I can’t do here in London, like waking up at 5 am in Summer to watch the sunrise at the beach and have freshly baked croissants afterwards. I’m trying to incorporate that into my photography, my longing for my country and my hometown and my family, as well as my relationship with London. Though it’s still all a work in progress.

What does home mean to you?

F: This is a tough question because I’m still trying to figure that out. I consider Italy home, but then so is London. I think home should be where you’re happy and you feel like you belong. Once you stop wishing to be somewhere else, I think that’s where home should be, but whether that is I don’t know. When I was in Italy I thought I didn’t belong there and now I feel like I don’t fully belong here.

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From the series Fuerteventura © Federica Tenti

What gives you a deep sense of belonging?

F: I think the main thing for me is integrating with people. You can dislike a place but still find yourself at home with those you surround yourself with. And I think that’s what’s kept me here for so long. Songs are a great way to recall home because I usually go in summer and that’s when they play the same summer hits on the radio over and over again, so if I hear one of those I immediately think back of home.

Can you name your favourite place in London?

F: Kew Gardens.

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© Federica Tenti

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© Federica Tenti

In closing, can you tell us a mantra in Italian that sparks your aspirations?

F: “volere è potere”
Where there’s a will there’s a way

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Federica Tenti is an Italian London-based photographer. Her work has been published and recognized by Dazed, Dreamingless Magazine, and Tate.

Visit Federica's site to see her work and Instagram for ongoing activities.

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