NOAVI, The ultimate Kunst of Wander Lust
My first encounter with Noavi was through her photos and I was immediately seduced by her vision, the sincerity and spontaneity in her work. Being born and raised in LA, with Yemeni Polish roots she’s a beautiful mix of both cultures with an incredible energy and boundless curiosity.
Being fascinated by Bedouin culture she travels from Abu Dhabi to the Arctic to study the Sami culture, from the breathtaking heights of Yemen to Luxour and down the Nile to the Nubian area always with her camera and her Moleskine notebook in her bag, constantly capturing her unique wondrous travel experiences all over the world.
You travel a lot to Middle Eastern countries, how did you manage to take photos as a woman in those mainly Islamic, male dominated countries?
In general it’s harder as a woman or a man to take photos of women in Islamic countries because they are very closed off to being open to the camera. Taking photos of men is much easier. It’s such a conservative culture, it takes so much more work to create a comfortable space to take pictures of women in Arab countries.
How do you make people who you don’t know feel comfortable in front of the camera?
Non-verbal communication is the most important thing.
“There’s so much that can be communicated without words, with your eyes, with a smile.”
It’s the most valuable tool to gage the sense of comfort of people that you’re working with. That’s why I often take photos of old people or children who are the most keen on non-verbal communication. Children because it’s so recent that they’ve acquired language, and old people because they’re old enough that you don’t always need words to communicate.
Being raised in a multicultural background, is it an inspiration in your work?
I feel it’s such a privilege and richness to grow in such a multicultural environment that it’s even more of an obligation.
From the beginning my parents gave me the desire to travel and to discover other countries and cultures. They were always backpacking, never travelling the fancy hotel kind of way. Me and my sister, we were always the babies in the backpack.
Is there an artists who inspires you?
I am very inspired by literature. There is something very imaginative where you can break the bounds of reality.
There is the author Lawrence Durrell who has lived in Alexandria. He was British and wrote the series of books called The Alexandria Quartet. The first novel of the four is called Justine and for me it’s the most beautiful piece of writing. I’ve never read a book so many times. It’s the book that I’ve used to travel with all the time.
Do you have objects that you always take with you on your travels?
I always have Moleskine notebooks with me. I’m on my 28th now. I’m constantly writing, sticking things into my notebooks like tickets, flowers, a paper cut out of newspaper, etc. It helps with moments in time. You can remember a day but you can easily forget intricate details which made the day so special and unique.
What do you think of when you hear about Iran?
From a language perspective I find Farsi the most poetic language. In general I associate poetry with Iran…And another place I want to go.
All photos by Noavi
Text: Anahita Vessier
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