Antonella Tignanelli is a food conceptualist, photographer, and all around artist from Argentina, now based in Barcelona. Cooking and sharing food is a fundamental part of her being as well as a motivational force that has driven her to many projects. There’s also this natural elegance in how she captures the quotidian spaces of life, that make her aesthetic aspirational but also very grounded.In the interview she talks to us about the process of discovering her passions, meaningful journeys, and the greatness of bread in times of distress.
When did you realise cooking was a way to express your inner self?
I think I’ve spent most of my career moved by my intuition and my heart towards cooking, nurturing people and creating moments of meeting. It was actually very recently that I started doing it more intentionally and realizing that it was actually something very true and organic to me, but it took me a while to be able to see it in full light. It was a journey of about 10 years until I was finally ready to say that this was what moved me and was the voice of my inner self. I think these things don’t happen from one day to the other and it is important to travel through the journey in order to get to where you’re really supposed to get.
"It is important to travel through the journey in order to get to where you're really supposed to get".
Camping, park Poblenou in Barcelona
In the past year you have been involved in creating the homey and delicious restaurant Baldomero and also Camping, a wonderful space in Poblenou.
What motivated you to take on these two projects?
I was approached to do both projects. I liked the fact that I had a lot of freedom to develop them conceptually and aesthetically. In both I worked with friends, so they gave me carte blanche in all the creative process and that was amazing. I find it hard to have other types of clients where I have to justify everything I do or fight for what I think is good, and it happens a lot.
"I started observing women and respecting them a lot for what they're able to go through".
There’s a combination of nature, womanhood and food in your photography. What inspires you the most about these subjects?
In the past years I have lived a couple of strong experiences as a woman, so I started observing women and respecting them a lot for what they’re able to go through. There is a link as well with what I’ve learnt and the people who taught me it: it was mostly women, mothers, grandmothers, friends…passing cooking traditions from generation to generation, tenderness, vulnerability amongst other women’s attributes are key for me nowadays for my practice, and this is why I focus on those subjects. Nature is where it all begins.
"Living in different cultures made me understand about the history and traditions of food".
Antonella in Baldomero Restaurant.
Photo by Sofia Alazraki
You have lived all over the world. How has it shaped the way you create (be it, food, photography...)?
Well that was the thing that shaped everything I do. Living in different cultures made me understand about the history and traditions of food. What do people consume, how and why.
I learnt most of my recipes while traveling, straight from the hands and minds of the people who were cooking those dishes forever, and I think that made a huge difference for me.
Regarding photography, for me it always responded to the curiosity I felt towards different characters and landscapes I was encountering on my way and the need to document this. So changing places constantly enriched a lot my inner world and made me more able to elaborate my practice.
"Being at ease with yourself and not focusing your energy in anything else than your own process and development is for me the actual important journey".
What has your comfort food been in these weird times?
Bread. Straight out of the oven. Sometimes with butter and fig jam, others with olive oil and salt.
With whom would you like to share a meal?
If you could come back as a flower, which one would it be?
Sweet or salty?
What is your favourite journey?
Ok, this will sound cheesy but I’d say the journey within yourself and your true purpose. Traveling is amazing and it helps out in the search, but it also distracts you a bit, because you are so excited and surprised constantly. Being at ease with yourself and not focusing your energy in anything else than your own process and development is for me the actual important journey, and it takes a lot of time and effort to get there.
Interview by Sarah Zelich