Interview with IPI Intern, Lénia Fernandes

Lénia Fernandes

Where were you born?
In Funchal, the capital of Madeira Island, which is part of the Portuguese territory.

What is your field or your primary area of interest?
Professionally, I have to say Conservation, particularly Photography.

What was your very first job?
My first and only paying job so far (and hopefully not the last), consisted of taking the trash out and wrapping gifts during Christmas time. I was awarded with having to wrap a Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. Not exactly an easy task, but with some help, I survived.

What would your dream job be?
A job that doesn't feel like it is a job. Just doing whatever I feel like and getting money for it seems like a good idea. In the real world, I'd like to work in Photography Conservation, but I know I still have a lot to learn to actually be good at it.

When and how did you hear about IPI?
About a year and a half ago, when I was first introduced to photography conservation through a book by Luis Pavão, that referenced Jim Reilly's book about 19th century photography and other articles published by IPI. From there on it got stuck on me.

What made you want to come to IPI for an internship?
Mostly just getting away from the environment I'd been in the last four years in college. Also, doing something outside my own country to get a new perspective on the world, and meanwhile practice a language other than my own.

Why does preservation matter to you?
It doesn't. Well, not to me specifically. I'm not looking into preserving myself; I'll last as long as I can. The only things that could make my decay rate slow down are the Rochester winters. The preservation of cultural objects, however, is important not just for me, but for society as a whole. Ideas, cultures, and movements don't last forever, so the physical materials that testify to them need to have a lifetime that greatly outlasts our own.

What is your favorite work of art or your favorite artist?
In general I'm fascinated with portraits, in any way that they can be expressed. I can't just answer one, but I can narrow it down to Albrecht Dürer, Leonardo da Vinci, and M.C. Escher. I still don't know enough about photography to have a favorite artist in this area that's not a cliché.

What other hobbies or significant interests do you have?
To keep myself entertained, I enjoy drawing, taking pictures, walking around, watching movies, and some TV shows. I also listen to music whenever I can, wherever I am. When I have my tools and beads, I'm also into making earings and other wearable accessories.

What book (or books) would you take with you to a desert island?
First, I need to assume that I knew that I was landing on a deserted island or I would end up with a free newspaper. I would need a big art history book filled with reproductions, so I could keep learning about it and remember things that I once learned but eventually forgot (bad long term memory). When it comes to novels (even though art history can be very entertaining), I would bring classics, like all the Jane Austen books I could get my hands on.

What is your most treasured possession?
I'm predictable. I feel like my family pictures are the most relevant thing I have. Other than that, things my friends gave to me that I would never buy for myself.

What is your greatest indulgence?
That's very very easy. Sugar, in whatever way it may come, but chocolate is a big favorite. I need at least one good sugar rush once a day.

What was the most surprising thing to you about IPI?
The main surprise was being able to come here. After actually getting here, of course the occasional free source of sugar is always a good surprise. I'll never forget the orange Halloween Kit Kat and the salty Danish licorice: both were intriguing, but also not so surprisingly bad.