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Mica Filipa


Interview by Lily McFly

A conversation with the author of our Berlin Quiet Guide, Portuguese materials scientist and photographer Mica Filipa Nomadic By Choice.

LM: You were born in Portugal, lived in England, and are based in Berlin now. Where will your future home be? 

MF: I am not a person who likes to make any kind of plans. I guess, I would love to go back home (Portugal) at some point. The thing is I can never go back to a place and find it exactly where I left it. Something will always have changed, most of all, myself. I think what I am trying to say is that, ultimately, my future home will be determined by people who shape my daily emotional experience. Where real life occurs.

LM: When did you realize that you wanted to become a photographer? Was it a turning point in your life? Please tell us a bit more about your “Turning point” project.

MF: Well, most people don’t know that I’m a scientist by trade and I was doing photography on the side. But then something happened and everything changed. The “Turning Point” project is exactly about that.

Back in 2013, I lived one of the most difficult times of my life. The loss of two very close relatives in a period of three days only. In the awful months and year that followed, from their death to the healing process (that I’m still going through), I felt numb and torn from a reality that I had understood all my life up to that point. Something had to be done to escape that dangerous spiral of anger and hurt. This was when I decided to travel to one of the most isolate and remote places on Earth (Iceland), and ended up shooting the “Turning Point” project. .The trip was pivotal for many reasons. Although I look exactly the same, my mindset couldn’t have undergone a more dramatic makeover. During the course of the following year, I decided to make a break in science, shifting my main focus to photography. I harbour no regrets.

What I have come to realize (only recently though) is that pain is absolutely fundamental for growth. Beautiful even. Interesting enough, these two immense losses helped me creating a whole new path which led me where I am today.

LM: What do you think about global culture? Does living in Berlin make you feel cosmopolitan? 

MF: Yes, I do feel cosmopolitan living here. Multiculturalism is what draws me to Berlin in the first place. It’s also something that I got acquainted with when I first moved to Oxford.  Global culture represents a symbiosis of all elements of the many other existing cultures which accepts cultural differences. My guess is that the next century will probably deal with a lot of uncertainty because of scarce resources and demography. So, I can imagine many setbacks and conflicts among communities.

LM: What makes Berlin so special?

MF: When I first thought of moving to Berlin, I could actually narrow it down to just a couple of reasons. Primarily, because I got a challenging position in a renowned scientific institute while I was still in the process of writing my DPhil thesis, back in Oxford. Secondly, because I felt a very strong connection with the city when I was first here, for a one-month training, in 2008. I knew it right then, that I would come back here in a totally different context.

At the moment, there are plenty of reasons. Berlin is a magical, consistently surprising, crazy city. Complex even. I’m continuously digging away layers of interesting things and sub-cultures that are happening pretty much everywhere. What I find most inspiring in Berlin is this sense of newness of the city that I feel on a daily basis. •

All Photos © 2016 Nomadic by Choice. All rights reserved.