Interview with photographer Marianna Glynska
Project Statement: “I don’t want to see the world today, I don’t want to meet the world today…” she said. She looked desperate and lonely, and she continued repeating: “I don’t want to see the world today, I don’t want to talk to anyone, I don’t want to meet anyone, I don’t want to face the world today…” I didn’t know how to respond, it seemed so strange to me until years later I’ve had the similar experience. I didn’t want to face the world, I didn’t have the strength to face it, – and all I could do was to hide, hide from the world, hide from people, hide from myself…
This project is about hiding and escaping, escaping from the world, daily duties and oneself, escaping from the daylight into the night, living in one’s own world and not facing the reality. Going into the darkness to discover the light, turning back on the hustle, noise, pretense, allowing oneself to stay weak and vulnerable, rejecting the norms of success, diving deeper and deeper into the vast ocean of the unconscious, discovering oneself anew…
Cary Benbow (CB): Please talk about why you photograph and how you chose photography as a way to express yourself.
Marianna Glynska (MG): My path to becoming a photographer wasn’t so straightforward or clear-cut. I tried many things to express myself. It wasn’t until I took a photo class and felt as if something woke up in me, and my inner voice told me ‘this was it’, this was what I needed. Ever since, art and photography have become an important and integral part of my life.
In my photography, I am mostly interested in reflecting on the things that aren’t so clearly visible on the surface. For me, it’s more about reflecting on the mental state, talking about the concepts of love, loneliness, sadness, melancholy. I want to show the rich and turbulent world that exists in our mind, the intersection of consciousness, subconsciousness, and unconsciousness. I am interested in human behavior, and through my photography I am studying the hidden driving forces of such behavior, and my personal experience of the world. I wish to explore subjectivity versus objectivity and the ways by which subjective experience is carried over onto the surrounding environment.
For me, every human being is like an interesting book worth reading, each human being is unique and complex, and yet there are certain things and common experiences that unite us all.
To photograph is to discover, to learn, to make mistakes; to be curious, to experience, to love, to fear, to hate, to adore, to get amazed and get disappointed, to feel and to live, while sharing my experience with others.
CB: Can you please explain the idea behind your night images submitted to this issue?
MG: I tend to concentrate on exploring “the night of the soul,” the darker colors of the night which are inseparable from the daylight; night is a mystery for me, the source of great imagination. I never view dark colors as depressing ones or in negative sense, for me it’s more about perplexity, something that triggers enigmatic hidden feelings.
The idea of the project was born a long time ago when I was living and studying in the US. And I clearly remember one particular day. My roommate stood up, suddenly looked at me and said: “Marianna, I don’t want to see the world today, I don’t want to meet the world today.” And she kept repeating it. Some time later, when I was living with a different roommate, I shot a series of photos without a specific concept in mind; an unconscious direction that I couldn’t clearly describe. I put all those photos aside, and worked on other projects. Then some years passed by, I moved back to Ukraine, struggled with starting everything anew and with very vague ideas about the future. And one day, I woke up, tired of everything, with so many things to do and no slightest desire to do them, and then the voice appeared in my head: “I don’t want to see the world today, I don’t want to meet the world today.” And so, I didn’t. I stayed at home, on my own, I had an inexplicable need to escape from all the routine, from the outside world, – I was too tired of it and I was scared to lose myself there. I needed to escape from the outer world to be reborn, I needed to hide in order to find myself anew, I needed that time to distinguish between who I really was and who I was expected to be, and it was the time when I allowed myself to be vulnerable, when I realized I didn’t have to be strong all the time, when I clearly realized that there was nothing bad in being vulnerable, in being weak, and it was the only road to finding one’s true self over and over again.
CB: What do you feel makes a good photograph?
MG: In my opinion, a good photograph is a sincere one; a good photograph is the one that could touch people by either triggering some emotions in them or making them think about certain issues, or simply reminding of the importance of all small things in life, all the experiences.
CB: So how do decide when you’ve been successful with an image or project?
MG: For me the project is successful when I feel it’s complete, when I felt and lived it, and when I sense that the time has come to move to another project.
CB: We spoke about why you chose photography as a medium, but what compels you to make images?
MG: My main inspiration is life itself and people. For me to photograph is to explore the world and human beings in it, to watch, to ask questions, to find and to lose, not to have answers but trying to understand. Of course, it’s all very subjective, but each of us sees the world with his/her own eyes, and yet there are certain things, certain experiences that are understood by all human beings.
And the night inspires me, especially walking late in the evening under the moon, when you suddenly start seeing usual and common things differently, when you have the vast room for imagination, when the rush of the routine is behind, and you have the time to speak to your inner voice, to listen to the wind, the waves of the river and try to guess what they are trying to ‘tell’ you.
CB: These images remind me of work by Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama – both in technique and subject matter. Was his work an inspiration for your series?
MG: I love the works by Daido Moriyama, I wouldn’t say that his works directly influenced me. If talking about Japanese photographers, the works by Eikoh Hosoe had a greater impact on my art. Even though the works by both these artists are somehow interrelated, I think Eikoh Hosoe’s photographs are more of a stage-like character, and I gravitate more towards staged photography as well (but, of course, not all my projects are like that). David Lynch has a great impact on my works, even though he works in a different medium, the way he depicts things, the questions he asks, and the topics he works with are very close to what I am exploring in my art.
Among other photographers who influenced me are Diane Arbus, Franceska Woodman, Jeff Wall, and Gregory Crewdson..
CB: Who are the people that appear in your photographs?
MG: People in my photographs are mostly my friends, good acquaintances, people I’ve met during different stages of my life. More often than not, I am not as much interested in simply making a portrait of the person but more in depicting something I have in my mind, or something that I can’t explain but just intuitively see and feel.
CB: Do they have significance beyond the role of a “Figure” in your scenes?
MG: For me, all these people are like actors/actresses, and the process of making a photograph is like a process of directing the film. And even though I mostly tell them what to do, try to create certain mood, certain atmosphere, it’s not very rigid and super controlled, there’s a lot of room for freedom of expression and improvisation. In my works, I try to appeal to those hidden forces that are present within each personality but can be often invisible on the surface, – I simply try to bring those forces out. Every process is unalike, and yes, each person has a great significance in the scene.
CB: Let’s talk more about the idea from your project statement of ‘hiding’ and not wanting to face the world.
MG: To expand on what I mentioned earlier, hiding and not wanting to face the world is like going through a little crisis, when there’s a feeling that you can’t do things that are demanded from you any more. And I think it’s important to make pauses from time to time and ask yourself: “Why is it happening? Why do I want to hide from everything?” And in my opinion, it’s important not to ignore or deny such things, but rather stop and use this time for oneself. There’s nothing wrong with embracing the loneliness and having important conversation with oneself. Escaping from the outside world for some time means embracing one’s inner self, listening to one’s inner voice and being able to hear it. It’s about taking the time off for yourself and then coming back and walking on the path that you choose for yourself rather than the path that someone else would choose for you. I believe we even need such small crises in order not to lose track of who we really are and what’s really important to us. Hiding from the world for a while can be transformative and beneficial to personal and spiritual growth.