SNAKE RUN NYC – RUNNING WITH ART

Running with a team is not exactly my preferred Saturday afternoon ideal plan, but when my friend told me about a group of runners that “snakes”through the Chelsea galleries I knew I had to join them. I am not a runner, but the amazing group led by gallerist Nacho Valle welcomed me with open arms. It was a great experience and I recommend anyone with a love for both art and running join them on their next run. Below are some of the galleries we visited and the amazing shows they have going on right now.

Mitchell-Innes & Nash – Amanda Ross-Ho “My Pen is Huge” :

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Galerie Lelong & Co. – Lin Tianmiao “Protruding Patterns”

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Tyler Rollins Fine Art – Tiffany Chung “The Unwanted Population” :

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Sikkema Jenkins & Co – Kara Walker :

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Images via. NY Times

Lisson Gallery – Leon Polk Smith :

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Marianne Boesky Gallery – Sanford Biggers “Selah” :

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INTERVIEW – EMMANUEL ROSARIO

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Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get your start in photography?

I grew up in Harlem, New York and I always felt like I didn’t fit in with the lifestyle of my peers, and I wanted out. I was tired of reliving the same routine over and over, with no visible progression. I wanted to live an adventurous life that was more in line with what made me feel comfortable in this world. When I took up photography in High School I realized that this could be the escape I was seeking. I trusted my gut. I started going out just to photograph, I would take pictures of everything and anything, but after a few years I became interested in documenting the people with whom I interacted and spent most of my time with. I don’t like photographing just anyone; I am interested in individuals that prefer alternative lifestyles, ones where mutual respect is at the core – people who are true to themselves. Characters of this world that live by their own rules and have a unique way of viewing life, one which is encompassed by love, chaos, compassion and the desire for some new height of excitement. My friends.

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You do a lot of traveling. In your travels what has been one of your favorite places to capture?

Motel 666. This is an imaginary, self made motel that my friend and I “built” in the desert between California and Arizona. We created Motel 666 in 2016 when we were driving around and discovered an abandoned house off the side of the road. On first sight, this place was a dump, a place where there has been no life in over 50 years and everything was abandoned and decrepit, taken over by nature. To us, we saw a playground, where anything goes. We were constantly ‘remodeling’ with junk that we found and brought in from outside. Motel 666 had most of the amenities of a home, living room, ‘toilet’, sleeping quarters and even a spot to cook. It had the basics, but by no means was this a place anyone, even us, would want to spend more than two days in. The weather is unbearably hot and there is no water anywhere near, but it is a place where our imaginations went wild and we felt truly free from all social constructs.

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What is it about documentary photography that attracted you?

Photography is essentially capturing a frame of our reality in a certain moment in time, weather it be fashion, photojournalism, fine arts, they’re all capturing a certain perspective of life. The difference with documentary photography: I am not in control of a single thing. I am documenting reality as it unfolds before me, photographing real people doing real things. I find more value in moments of true experience than fabricating something with a photo.

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What is your creative process like?

My creative process is a difficult one to explain because I don’t really have one, or at least I haven’t been able to define it yet. I like to build trust with the individuals I choose to photograph. This is a crucial step in making photos that reflects true comfort-ability, capturing a story behind the individuals and the space in which we see them. Before shooting I tend to look around the space, see how the light and the environment interact with everything else, and then I wait for actions that I’m drawn to and find interesting in the moment. Those splits seconds between something and nothing. Those are the moments I want to capture.

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Do you have a favorite photo that has an interesting story behind it and behind the subject?

This photo was taken around July or August 2014. An hour before I took this photograph I almost drowned twice in ten minutes. My friends and I where in Oregon and went for a swim in a river, one which had a cliff you could jump from. I’ll admit I was a bit too drunk and did not think much of my own swimming skills, and jumped in. It was fine until my arms felt heavy; I started to panic and began to sink. That’s when my best friend, Thibault, came to my rescue and brought me to the other side. I tried to regain my breath and swim back and once again, but the trauma from the first encounter fucked with my mind, and I started to go down again. I called for Thibault and he jumped in immediately, dragging me out. It was one of the worst times of my life. In this photograph my friend Elizabeth is on the left of the frame coming out of the water calmly and Thibualt on the right, hitting the water and causing it to splash up and express a sense of urgency. Which is what I felt at the moment, that relief of being out but also seeing how my friend jumped in to save my life without a second thought.

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What can we expect to see from you in the future?

In October I will be traveling to Europe, visiting Berlin, Prague, Poland, Italy, Spain, France, England and Scotland all in a months time to finish photographing the last few photos for a photography book I have been working on for the last five years. Wish me luck.

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INTERVIEW – SCARLETT HOOFT GRAAFLAND

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Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get your start taking photos?

I am trained as a sculptor, first at Minerva Academy in Groningen, the north of Holland, later I did a MFA in sculpture at Parsons School of Design in New York. During my studies in sculpture the surroundings of the work were always a very important part of the practice; where is the sculpture located, what is the context of the site. This is something that is still essential in my work. So I guess I am a photographer with a ‘sculptor-mindset’. The ideas arrive from a sculptural way of thinking, then later I registrate them as a photograph. I really like the medium of photography; that you can orchestrate the work in a certain way, search for the most suitable landscape, for the right weather circumstances.

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What is your creative process like? What inspires your photographs?

I love entering the unknown. In the wilderness, I become conscious of being alive; and within foreign cultures I’m made aware of my own identity. This sense of liberation often contrasts with the fascinating traditions of the local culture. When entering and living within an unfamiliar culture for the first time, its compulsory behaviors and restraints can be felt. Within these extreme environments I’m being challenged in so many ways, nothing is obvious, not even my notion of self. I really come alive when I enter what I’d like to call the “hyper-real”.

 

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You still use analogue photography. Why do you prefer this method over digital?

I make my photos with an analogue medium format camera and print directly from the negative. I like this old way of producing the work, even though it is much more time consuming then the digital process. I do not feel the urge to manipulate my images in a digital way. I never felt attracted to those tools. Maybe because then the options would feel infinite. I like to work in a framework with the possibilities that are on the site. That also defines the work, and limits as well. With these limitations, you have to find solutions, improvise, to see what materials are available, what can you do with the different types of weather, etc. These effects almost look like there is some trickery done, some surreal effect.

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Your image of the women in a beach in Yemen is extremely powerful. Could you tell us the story behind this image?

I really wanted to visit the island of Socotra, Yemen, because of the very special flora and fauna and its almost surreal landscapes. Just to go there and work was really tough, and would be impossible at the moment because of the civil war in Yemen. At that time, in 2014, I was lucky to discover a very nice contact, a war photographer from Sana’a assisted me and helped me to enter local society. That way I was able to meet a local family, they were my models for my photo ‘Burka Balloons’. In this photo, I wanted to create an image of women in burkas that is different from what we see in the news so much nowadays, something more joyful but also somewhat ambiguous.

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Do you have a favorite image you have taken? If so why is it your favorite?

No, I do not have a favorite photo. Some are really special to me because the circumstances have been so difficult, like living for many months in the arctic for instances. Or spending weeks traveling in an old truck in Madagascar, accompanied with a team of some Malagashy local artists, crossing the island searching for the right places, etc.

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Your work focuses a lot on travel and showcasing these destinations. What is your favorite place to travel to/have traveled to?

I love the vastness of the Altiplano in Bolivia: incredible landscapes, the cloud formations at 4000 meters high. As if you are traveling in a painting of Rene Magritte. And I think it is very powerful that Bolivia, is the only country in the world that has a law that defines Mother Earth as ‘a collective subject of public interest’ and declares it as titleholder of inherent rights specified in law. You can feel in the culture the respect the Aymara people have for their surroundings.

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What can we expect to see from you in the future?

These days, being pregnant, I’ve become especially aware of my own physical state; like the tip of my nose, it always feels numb after being frozen on the arctic. Yet, it has inspired me to write a new book, about all my adventures, about the hardships and marvels I’ve encountered. I’m grateful for my temporary time-out and hope to deliver the book as well. I’m also preparing for another trip in April next year to the desolate salt flats of Bolivia. The recently evaporated lakes have inspired me to document its impact on local culture and vice versa.

 

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INTERVIEW – JAIRO ALVAREZ

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Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get your start taking photos?

I always felt attracted by visual art. As a child I used to spend every day of the week drawing. I remember being really passionate about drawing super heroes, all of them created by me, each one of them had a different and absurd super power. As time passed by, I slowly stopped drawing, I don’t know why, but it just happened.
In Argentina, when you finish high school it is customary to do a trip with your fellow classmates. For this trip I bought a compact digital camera, which by the way, was my first camera. After that trip, the camera was stored for a while. I always wanted to take a photography course and I took one at the age of 19. I realized that it was something I did not want to tame too much, but to learn through experience. So I started studying on my own count. I began to take pictures just for fun. Trial and failure, over and over. As time passed by, I found myself exploring different types of photography and I then realized I could do with the camera what I was doing before with drawing – create something totally new.

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What is your creative process like? What inspires your photographs?

It depends, sometimes the idea is inspired by a place, but most of the time it is something I have jotted down in my notebook. I try to find inspiration in everyday situations, feelings and objects with which I come in contact. First, I draw the main idea in my notebook, just to avoid forgetting it, then I work with the concept, the composition, the light, etc. When the idea is more or less ready, I plan everything. Sometimes I have to build supports with my own hands, it’s one of my favorite parts of the process. This is when I have to define the location, the model, how I will carry out the idea. I like to work a lot in pre-production, so I can decrease post production. I try to use the least amount of Photoshop possible.

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How much time goes into carrying out one of your ideas? Which photo has taken the longest to plan out?

It depends on the idea. I build the props with my hands so the time depends on what I need to create. Also, I need to scout the perfect locations. In general it can take one or a couple of weeks from when I scout the location. For example, it took me one week to create a real lipstick-cannon for my photo “Red lips.”
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Your photo of the guy with the umbrella and humans raining is very strong. What inspired this photo?

This photo is one of my first self-portraits, 3 years ago. It was shot in the countryside around my town. The umbrella is one of my favorite props, full of meaning, because it protects you but at the same time is very fragile. Rainy humans are like “my others” that died during my life.

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Who are some of your biggest influences?

René Magritte, the illustrator Pawel Kuczynski, Wes Anderson, and many others artists.

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What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I have been traveling a lot for the  last year and a half and many ideas came to my mind, now it is time to carry them out. Also, lately I have fallen more in love with prop-design, so the next photos will probably include an object that I built specially for them.

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INTERVIEW – COCO DAVEZ

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Tell us a little bit about your background, how did you get your start in the art world?

In the art world I started professionally in 2010 when I lived in London.

What is your creative process like?

Every day I am documenting about aesthetic movements that I like that are inspiring me here and there. The most difficult thing is to find the idea. Once you have the idea the next step in the process is sketching,  then trying different materials and color combinations; I make collages to get an idea of how it will be exposed in a real space. Once I convince myself it all works then I begin the final piece.

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What inspired your “faceless” series?

This collection is a tribute to all my idols, characters that have somehow marked me throughout my life.

As a child you wanted to be a fashion designer. Is this something we expect to see from you soon?

If all goes well I would like to draw a line of clothes this year, but I am very thorough with all my projects and I need to have everything under control to carry it out.

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I read that Picasso is one of your biggest influences. What is your favorite piece by him?

‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’ is my favorite piece by Picasso, I remember seeing it for the first time in the movie ‘Titanic’ when I was eight years old and was fascinated by the colors of the painting. A few months ago I was lucky to see it at the MoMa Museum and of course it is a piece that provokes many things in me, I feel Stendhal’s syndrome when I see it. Although probably what arouses the most feelings in me is the photographic process of the creation of Guernica.

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What is inspiring you right now? What are you currently working on?

I am currently sucking on everything that at some point in my life inspired me to create a book that I am writing and drawing on my relationship with art.

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Coco Dávez is not your real name, what inspired this moniker?

My real name is Valeria Palmeiro, ‘Coco’ came up with a Sesame Street character that made me very funny and ‘Dávez’ is the total invention of a surname.

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What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I hope that the Dávez universe will grow and not be left alone in the canvases, I would like this signature to become a company.

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INTERVIEW – RICARDO CAVOLO

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Tell us a little bit about your background, how did you get your start in the art world?

Well, I was born at my father’s painting studio. He is also an artist so since my very first day in this world I was surrounded by brushes, canvas, colors, pencils… So this was the natural path for me. I always knew I would become someone whose life is art. It’s  been easy in that sense, I never had any doubts or a plan B.

 

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I read that you are from Spain; how does your heritage translate into your work?

I’m not sure if my work is influenced by my country. I never use Spain and its tradition as a specific part of my inspiration. Or at least no more than other countries. I use Italian, American, African or Asian heritages at the same level as the Spanish one.

 

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Your work consists of a lot of very colorful portraits. How do you pick your subjects?

I always have dozens of stories in my mind that I want to tell through my work, most of them are about pretty much the same thing: the non-standard people, the non-regular people, minorities (usually not well treated minorities). I’ve been living with gypsies for 10 years and have seen that B side of society,  but there are also wonderful things that happen, there is also magic there, even brighter than the usual one. I like to speak about that magic from the B side of the society.

 

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What is your creative process like?

I always create the story first in my mind, and the rest of the process is pretty much improvisation. I let my hands choose the composition and my eyes and heart choose the colors… There is not too much to explain, I just create the story in my mind and the rest happens naturally 🙂

 

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I read that you listen to a lot of hip-hop while painting. What is on your playlist right now?

Desiigner, Future, Kanye, Lil Yachty…

 

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On your Instagram I’ve seen a couple of really cool clothing pieces with your work on them. Is clothing/print design something that you thought you would ever be a part of?

I love fashion, it’s fun and it’s a great kind of art. I’m working on my own clothing brand, I hope I can get some fun from the fashion world someday.

 

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What is inspiring you right now? What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a sort of illustrated encyclopedia about outsiders of our world, human minorities, cities, countries, animals, plants, artists… A book about the B side of life.

 

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What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I’m not sure. If I keep doing things, I will do bigger and bigger things. I want to paint a mountain and fill every corner of the world with color 🙂

 

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INTERVIEW – TYLER SPANGLER

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How would you describe your work? 
Grape flavored popsicle dipped in the ocean and placed on a rock to melt.
So you only work digital? Why? 
It has less restrictions and I can put it in the world instantaneously.
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How did you get your start in the art world?
I used to cold email companies like crazy and eventually some started to take notice. I got a couple small jobs which led to bigger jobs. While I was waiting for anyone to respond to me I would constantly make new work to keep myself experimenting.
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What is a piece that you have done that you are really proud of? 
I love all of my work equally.
I read that you’re a surfer as well, does this translate into your art? If yes, how? 
Absolutely. I think the spontaneity of surfing has allowed me to work more instinctively. One of the hardest things to do is start a piece but I think surfing helps that.
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Tell us about a typical day in your life –
Wake up and feed the baby, dog, and myself. Then I will check the surf and respond to emails. If the waves are good I will go surf. I will eat again and work on any projects that I have or make personal work. The rest of the day will be sprinkled with tending to the dog and baby and responding to emails.
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What are you inspired by?
Any type of art or music that evokes strong emotions.
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I read somewhere that you always listen to music while working. What’s on your playlist right now?
Electric Wizard, Windhand, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
                                                                                                                                                         
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Working on any new books? What can we expect to see from you in the future? 
I have a couple awesome clothing collaborations coming up as well as putting together my 10th part of my 440 page book series.
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Interview – Marcus Møller Bitsch

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How did you get into photography?

Since childhood I’ve been very interested in art and crafts, but my interest in photography actually started as a documentation solution, in order to convince my parents about what I saw underwater on our annual charter vacation. I have since I was little, been incredibly happy with water and quickly mastered free-diving skills. My parents didn’t believe, as many other parents, on the things I saw under water – in advance I did tell them many fanciful tales of what I saw in my everyday life – and some of them were perhaps a little too fantastic. I got an underwater disposable camera on our holiday to Malta, at 10 years old, and it was suddenly possible to convince my skeptical parents of what I saw beneath the surface. I spent hundreds of dollars a week on underwater disposable cameras on holidays. The madness could not continue, and I got a sponsorship for digital underwater cameras 5 years after by a free-diving sponsor. Years passed and I bought a Nikon d60, which I often played with every now and then. Then, three years ago – a Wednesday, I “unfortunately” injured my knee, which meant I couldn’t practice free-diving or any other kind of sport for months. I asked myself the question, “So, what should you do now Marcus?!”. All my life I’ve pursued big passions and goals, which have taken up my spare time completely. Since I couldn’t do any kinds of sports after my injury, I decided to start a project – the 365 days project. When I started the project I began a journey in understanding the photography world, which is why I choose the day I started the project, as the day I started photographing. I started the project, because I wanted to make something out of my day, but also to pursue my newly profound passion. I wanted to learn, to discover the world of photography and to tell stories through my camera.

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What is your creative process like?

It varies. Sometimes I just stumble about a location and suddenly get an idea, and put it immediately to life. I always have different props with me in my camera bag – e.g. different kinds of fireworks, tread, cotton, and textiles. Most of the time though, I sketch down my idea, return to it days or months later, perfect it and eventually put it into life. I’m often scared of putting certain thoughts together, in fear of not making them good enough. I feel like I’m not good enough to certain of my ideas yet – due to not having the finances/time/position/models/etc. to make them perfect.

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Who are some of your favorite photographers and artists?

It changes a lot from time to time, but Tim Walker, Alex Prager and Rodney Smith are definitely some of the photographers who always make the cut. Regarding artists, I’m very fond of Michael Kvium, Renee Magritte, Elmgreen & Dragset, Peter Martensen and Edward Hopper to name a few.

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How would you describe your style of photography?

I would describe the core of my photography as minimalistic conceptual fine art. My photos are often built up on a foundation of a relatively simple concept or idea, and display some kind of surrealism. As you see in a lot of my photos, I am very fond of centrally composed static photos with a lot of negative space. Furthermore, I have started chasing the goal of not manipulating my photos — I would like to make my photos look surreal without being it.

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Painting a sweet escape (2013)

Which photo that you have taken is your favorite? Why?

It’s a tough question. But “UP” (2012) is undoubtedly the photo that have had must effect on my career, and do therefore means the most to me. “The self-destructive society” (2014) is also a favorite. Spent a lot of time on the symbolism as well as the scenery itself. The photo is not manipulated at all, and actually works as sculpture by itself. I did the photo while travelling about in Australia, at a rented room, so I unfortunately had to get rid of the sculpture after photographing it – since I was on the road constantly.

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Where do you find inspiration?

The short answer would be, “In everything”. It’s often very subtle things that catch my eye. It can be the color of the apple I’m eating, the shape of a leaf, or a person’s face. When I get an idea or find something interesting, I sketch it on paper in one of my several notebooks so it is easier to remember. Also, I’ve recently started to read a lot of philosophy, which is triggering deeper thoughts and inspiration. There will be many references to the books I read in my coming book, either in the form of statements or photo series.

The light is clearer at night (2013)

What did you learn about yourself as a person and as an artist on your 365 day project?

Before I began the 365 days project, I didn’t really know much about photography. It was my way to try out my newly found passion and see what the photography world was about. As my passion grew, I used the 365-day project/photography as a way to handle my feelings, thoughts and experiences. It was almost like self-therapy, so of course I learned a lot about myself. I figured out that photography was what I wanted to do and fell more and more in love with it as a visual medium.

You are currently working on a book. Could you tell me a little bit more about it and the process of putting it together?

I left my home in Denmark the 11th of September, to begin a near yearlong journey and an even longer book-project. The book will be about the idea of always searching for the place where the grass is greener.

I stood in a situation, after graduating from high school, as many others do, where I was for the first time in my life, completely free. I wasn’t a prisoner anymore, not by the school system, not by my family. I was free to do what ever I wanted. As many other young people, I decided to go on an adventure. I didn’t have much idea about where I was going. I just wanted to get as far away as possible to take full advantages of my sudden freedom. After being “imprisoned”, I strived to be independent. You always say the grass in greener on the other side, right? So what do you do, after being “locked up”? I went to Australia – the other side of the world, to find where the grass was greener.

The book is about the journey, this search for the greener grass, the realization of what “my paradise” is and the meeting with the different cultures and people’s. All this told through photo-series, statements and stories.

At the moment I’m back in Denmark working on the book. Editing photos, making new material and finishing writing. If everything works out as planed, it will be ready to be published in February 2015 – but projects of this caliber always have surprises in-store for a first timer.

The selfdestructive society (2014)

How important a part does editing and manipulation play into the final product of a photo?

I used to manipulate a lot of my work earlier on, but do nowadays strive to manipulate or edit as little as possible. This means I put a lot more work into creating the actual scene in real life, while still trying to retain the same surreal feeling. I see it like a mystery or a puzzle to be solved – how to get from A to B, without any help from Photoshop. It pushes your creativity, pushes you to see new ways of bringing the intended story to life. I love it, and it is something that can keep me awake for days.

to drown (2014)

What can we expect from you in the future?

I just recently started working on some projects in Paris, which will be out soon. I have my first solo exhibition in Denmark coming up in the beginning of the New Year. And then the book will be published in February – if everything works out as planed – but lets see. Furthermore I have recently started to work in other mediums – primarily painting and sculpture, which you definitely will see more of in the future.

up (2012)

To learn more about Marcus:
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Flickr
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