Critique

Portfolio: Marianna Rothen

In the Portfolio series, photographers showcase their works and introduce themselves. Today you will meet a Canadian photo artist who captures women from 60’s movies.


Marianna Rothen, 32

Born in Canada, lives in New York. Used to be a model before she took up photography.

I started taking a lot of photographs when I was traveling as a young fashion model. This was a great way for me to have a creative outlet while on the road. I have no photo-related education, I only learned the basics on b&w photography in high school. I watched other photographers. To pass the time while I was not working, I would do photo shoots with the other models.

I get my inspiration from films from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Particularly, the characters of: Catherine Deneuve in ‘Repulsion’, Margit Carstensen in ‘Fear of Fear’ and Shelly Duvall in ‘3 Women’, are all very vulnerable but strong and all of them misunderstood. These kind of outsiders fascinate me. Whenever I watch films I’m always finding these photographs I want to take, they are the in-between moments before the action happens.

I shoot women. I concentrate my attention on the emotional state of my women, where they are as a person. They are meant to be very much alive, in a moment which is part of other moments we do not see. I have just finished a series of short films called ‘Fever To Her Plague’, they are about the roles women hold in society and the expectations it places on them. Fame, the need to be understood, beauty, escapism and family life are all topics. I have just started to shoot a new body of photographic work centered around the same themes while also making direct references from the films of Robert Altman, Antonioni, Fassbinder, Polanski.


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If there was some planning you will always get at least one good shot. It is never exactly what you envisioned and that’s what makes it so exciting. Sometimes you get several good shots and then I feel incredibly lucky! A picture is great when you find yourself wanting to know more, when it stimulates your imagination and transports you into its world.

I often play with props. Book, diary, knife, arms, tears, mirrors, windows. They are tips for reading the images.

I work with two cameras for each image: a Cannon 5D and a Polaroid sx-70. Each image is photographed twice and scanned once mixing digital and Polaroid together. There are many elements that can be seen as difficulties: the weather isn’t cooperating, the model isn’t comfortable. I do not see these things as problems, anything difficult is just a stepping stone to taking a better picture. The one real difficulty for me is that Polaroid stopped making their film. No one has been able to copy the particular color of the sx-70 & 600 film. I’m still finding a solution.

I don’t work commercially. This is by print sales. Enough to continue working. My immediate goal is to finish a new photo exhibition which have the same themes as my short films.


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