martt, a selection of images from his body of works.
Q: How would you describe the (dynamic) relation between the portrayed and the portrait maker?
A: I like to believe the photoshoot can be an experience in itself for both, regardless of the results. The best is when you can create a loose atmosphere, in which creativity can thrive. You can meet before hand and get to know each other, align expectations, and cultivate a deeper connection as foundation.
During the session I do my best to create a comfortable space. I want it to be fun, you know? Maybe we can put some music on, joke around… If it’s possible, you can add collaborative elements to it, by asking them if there’s a way they would like to be photographed, ideas that they might want to try out, etc.
I believe this dynamism ends up playing a huge role in setting the mood, and it definitely reflects in the results.
Also in my case, the photoshoot is a great opportunity for them to explore their curiosity for analog photography. For example, I was photographing my friend’s family and both of his young daughters were quite curious about the camera I was using (Rolleiflex Automat)- they had never been exposed to analog gear. So I asked one of them if she would like to learn how to load the film in the camera, she said yes and was quite excited to be part of it. She held the camera, asked a lot of questions about how it works, etc. I am sure that made the experience a lot richer for both of us.
Q: If you as a maker look at the portrait you made, do you see a reflection of yourself despite another person in the image?
A: Yes! Almost like a requirement for excellence, seeing myself in my portraiture is really important. I recognise I have the privilege to work in freedom, which is not the case for many photographers. That privilege allows me to create images that reflect my sense of beauty, the world seen through my own eyes. Maybe part of the goal is that, the viewer will feed on these images, and the captured perception will become part of their own.
But more important than that: I want to document my own existence. Capturing nudity for example is a result of that.
I am part of the naturalist movement, in fact I am a member of a naked sports club. So I am not deliberately creating or idealising a recreational context in which nudity exists. I am part of it and I document the beauty I see in it. So of course that reflects my own image as well.
My photography can be strongly biographical.
Q: Does being unclothed as a portrayed mean sexual approximation?
A: I think it depends on how nudity is portrayed. Most people that associate nudity with sexuality have most likely been constantly exposed to stimuli that strengthened that association. But there are elements in portraiture that can be used as an attempt to direct the viewer in another direction. If I capture nudity in a recreational context, for example, I might be able to weaken the sexual association. In fact that is why I think it is so important for us as artists to challenge that construct and show nudity in non-sexual contexts or at least without strong sexual overtones. The more people are exposed to it, the better.
But in the end I don’t have total control over how my portraits will be interpreted. People will experience my work based on their own perceptions. I choose to let go of their judgement.
Q: Thesis: in the current way of living, the artist is indirectly asked to also assume in a way to have a digital 2D identity. My work, for example, shows a lot of bare skin. But social media finds that against the guidelines. Because a lot of skin in an image would be explicit or sexual.
I wonder how I can exist digitally as an artist if this guideline generalizes the way of looking at unclothed bodies. Not everyone looks at bodies in a sexually objectified way. How do you feel about this digital trend?
A: I think the short answer is to host that kind of content on your website, and use platforms that are less restricting, like Twitter.
But you know, this is quite a complex topic. Let me just tell you this: I don’t think social media serves us well. We are talking about a business model in which the company makes a lot of money, and the consumers get very little in return. I think we rely too much on social media, and use their metrics to define our success as artists. You can spend a lot of time learning how to implement a social media strategy that works for you, but improving those metrics won’t necessarily help you build a community that shows up because of the value you bring.
I have decided that I want to direct most of my time and energy towards improving my own craft.
I prefer the alternative of assigning social media a logistical role, in order to set up richer and meaningful interactions - preferably offline.
Q: Is the medium you use important in portraying your identity as an artist?