Interview PPAPER SHOP magazine with MARINA FAUST, Taiwan, 2007


1.You are a photographer and an artist making videos and objects. Would you like to talk about your background?

Since I can remember I was around artists. In Vienna my mother had a kind of open house and we had continuous visits from people from all over the world, mostly artists, writers, actors and else. They were often funny, brilliant and imposing personalities. They made me laugh. I loved to look and listen, I loved to be around adults and was very seldom with children…. I think that the confrontation with artists and Art at a very young age gave me a sensitivity and profound understanding of artists. As for my passion for art and my own evolution as an artist, that came much later in my life.

I began to work as a photographer at a young age by pure coincidence, it was never a particular choice, my first desire was to do film editing but then I was distracted by photography over many years.


2. You did commercial photography for magazines before. When and how did you start out? What kind of magazines were they?

My first personal creative story was a series of photographs on the bunkers on the French Atlantic coast, I was fascinated by the fact that these bunkers changed position over the years, fell into the sea from the top of the dunes, or appeared and disappeared into the water on the seashore of the Atlantic depending the low or high tide of the sea .. An editor of architectural magazines in Italy had seen these photos. He published them in one of his magazines. Then a friend proposed to me that we form a team and travel through Italy and shoot houses for these magazines. I needed to earn money and accepted.  The traveling gave me the wonderful occasion to look at Art all over the country and to learn a lot about Italian Renaissance and pre Renaissance painting, to visit its architectures, churches… It was an incredibly inspiring period in my life. I learned a lot.


3. What is “commercial” according to you? Do you still do commercial work for magazines?

Yes I do. When I do interior photography, I see it as a more technical work, of course my creativity is involved, but I photograph things that are not of my universe. When I choose to photograph an exhibition of an artist, for example recently for Frog magazine, France, I don’t see it as a commercial work because I express my own position as an artist through my vision on somebody else’s work. The more my creativity is involved and the more freedom I have the less I consider it as commercial, however everything is commercial as long as it is sellable, so this is a tricky question, frontiers are not so clear sometimes. What somebody could understand as a commercial series, like for example the one I just did for Numéro magazine Japan, When circles are square, was not at all. I worked on that as an artist. I had carte blanche and constructed images around the MMM women summer 08 collection, I wrote words with mohair threads, made specific objects for the series, am partly myself in the photos. So it is a very ‘non classical’ way of looking at fashion.


4. Thanks to Maison Martin Margiela we started to know Marina Faust  more. You began your first collaboration with Maison Martin Margiela in the early 90’s.  Since then you  took photos for Maison Martin Margiela very regularly.  How was your first meeting like?

My first collaboration with Martin Margiela dates from 1990. I had heard about a fashion show on a parking lot with a kind of hard-core rock music. I was immediately attracted by such an underground performance. At the end of the 80’s, an extremely conformist time, this was a revolutionary act. Today, everybody does it…

I was intrigued and went to the showroom. I was very nicely received. At that time it was a family like business with about 5 people. I looked at the collection and fell totally for it. I saw a new concept of fashion, a radicalism and a new silhouette for women. As much as it felt like something from far away and strange it also felt extremely familiar. This happens sometimes when you recognize something of yourself in somebody else’s work, something you have inside you but that you had never materialized. It is like somebody puts a mirror in front of you and says, look at yourself but differently, from another angle, there is more of you there you have not acknowledged yet. Creativity creates creativity, Art comes from Art, so this was a time to look. I looked, I photographed, Martin Margiela liked my pictures and it was the beginning of a long collaboration.


5. How was the working process? Is Martin Margiela himself ever involved?

Yes often he is involved. The collaboration has a variety of aspects, sometimes it is based on a clear and developed concept by MMM, sometimes I am free to do what I want, sometimes it is a bit of both.


6. How many series (or seasons) of photos have you taken for Maison Martin Margiela? 

I work nearly every season for MMM and there are several sessions of very diverse things per season, backstage before the shows, photo series, for example the black and white icons I do since years. They are representative images, one per collection. This I do in collaboration with the intern creative art director, and the image is decided beforehand. In that case, for example, there is very little space left to invent, so I am more there for, let’s say, my personal photo technique. For this I work with a 4×5 studio camera.  Lighting, of course is important. I photograph also the pieces of the artisanal collection, the collection number 0 and I make videos twice a year of the presentations of this collection that are often an installation where men and women wear the outfits in a specific environment created for that occasion in the showroom.


7. We saw you made photos for the presentation of Maison Martin Margiela S/S 08 Men’s collection . The two words ” FEAR” and “RARE” are featured in these images.  What did you try to express?

The title is Super rare fear, the SUPER features as a piece of jewelry in the first picture, an MMM jewelry, then among the other photos comes RARE and FEAR written in letters that I bought from a cafe that was destroyed in my neighborhood in Paris. They are letters from the 70’s. The name of the cafe was LE CARREFOUR. The possibilities of words to be constructed with these letters are of course limited as they do not contain the whole alphabet. … I like constrictions, they force your imagination. FEAR is there for a basic human condition. RARE can be understood as precious, extraordinary, special. It was for me a way to talk about the rareness and the quality of the collection of MMM. I chose to photograph in the basement of the building I live in, in Paris. The basement helped me to be in a different reality, away from the outside world and therefore to be as free as possible. It is very low ceiling and feels like a womb… with all the things around that people keep but not inside their apartments…

I shot the story with two models, a man and a woman.

Words are important to me as well as titles, they give another imaginary dimension to the images.


8. You worked on one video with Maison Martin Margiela that was projected for the presentation of the A/W 99-00 collection. This “different” way to present a fashion show shocked many people at that time. Would you like to talk about this video?

It was a film I shot with Martin Margiela. He had prepared a script/scenario, I filmed and we edited it together.


9. Was that your first video work? When did you start to work on videos?  What was your first video about?

My first videos were personal projects. The very first was made in 1995. Its title is Dirty D./The fact. It is based on a text I wrote about a compulsive sexual being. I say the text behind an antipollution mask that I wear while I am moving forwards on a bicycle. The text and the way it is said have a slam kind of rhythm to them. The film is in black and white. It is a quite burlesque piece. Many of my first videos were based on texts I had written.


10. Your latest video is Gallerande.  Ten people film each other simultaneously. Why Gallerande ? Does the chateau de Gallerande mean something to you?

I was looking for a location to shoot the film. Gallerande was a castle owned by an American decorator that I photographed for a magazine at that time. I liked the castle because it had one floor that was meticulously decorated with antiques and another that was totally trash, forgotten and never touched for over 50 years, if not more. It also had an extraordinary park with beautiful trees aged several centuries. I like to go with what life provokes spontaneously, to provoke situations that were not foreseen. That castle was unexpected and it increased the contrasts in the film that I was looking for.


11. What is your vision on human beings? How do human beings have an impact on your work?

I create artificial families for my film projects. I like to put people together and enjoy very much when they get along, when there is harmony among them and when they construct affinities that are then profitable for the work process itself. The group dynamic provokes also competition that again provokes creativity. I work a lot by myself, alone, and enjoy very much the change when working as a team, with others. Film making gives me that opportunity.


12. The video Gallerande makes me think of  your exhibition Im Raum bei Song at Song Song gallery in Vienna in 2007. The gallery was filled with secondhand chairs, people were sitting on them, the chairs were pushed by other people. The show’s viewers were operators. Would you like to talk about your idea of this project? What does Im Raum bei Song mean?

Everything in the film Gallerande is visible, nothing is behind the camera, the traveling chairs, the cameras, the harnesses for the cameras, etc. The operators and actors are exchangeable, or better they all simultaneously have both roles in that they are filmed while they are filming. Everybody films the other one filming the one that is filming …

For the shoot of Gallerande I decided to create my own chairs for the traveling sequences, not use the wheel chairs normally used when you don’t have rails in low-budget productions. I wanted to get away from the direct handicap aspect of the wheel chair.

I put chairs on wooden panels, screwed wheels on the panels and adapted handles on the back of the chairs. These traveling chairs ended up having an essential part in the film.

I liked then the idea of a chair to travel with in general and went further, created more of them, went higher, the last one is nearly a throne.

Im Raum bei Song means at Song’s space. In that space the public was also involved from both sides, as the viewer of the exhibition and as an active participant as they were active in pushing the chairs or being pushed on them.

Being on such a chair puts things into a slightly different perspective, you are a little higher than on a normal chair and in a smooth movement. It is an action that needs two people.


13. Why do you want to work more on objects?

I continue to work with the same media.


14. Another signature of your work are objects made with wool. Why wool? What does wool mean?

It is more specifically mohair wool, mohair has a kind of nervous quality to itself and I use it like a pencil. I draw with it, I wrap objects with it. It has its own dynamic. It asks to be tamed.


15. Is it easy for you to combine photography, video and objects?  What relationship do you see between them? Or have you ever tried to combine them?

One medium inspires the other or frees me from the other, then they cross each other in certain projects. For my most recent exhibition in Tokyo, I made an installation with white mohair- wrapped shoes on a black cube made of rubber, I showed a large print with mohair writing in the window and projected the film The park in the projection room of the space.


16.What is your favorite medium?

I love to shoot films, to photograph and to work on my mohair collages.


17. Which movements have you been influenced by?

I couldn’t cite any movement, I grew up in the world of Viennese culture, I think a certain taste, a sense for a particular aesthetic is certainly coming from there. Then I traveled so much, lived in different countries and was influenced by all these varieties of cultures, languages, patterns. It didn’t make things easy but it made me what I am. I however learned a lot from French culture through its approach to language, to logic, logic of language, my way of thinking today is profoundly formed by it.


18. Do you have an admiration for any artist or did they influence your work?

As a young photographer, Lustrum press was quite a discovery, Larry Clark’s Tulsa for example, Michael Martone, Ralph Gibson, Gibson was, besides being a photographer, the editor of Lustrum press. There was a new world in photography there that was challenging to me. Later in New York the first installations of Bill viola had impressed me, Cindy Sherman was important, Ed Ruscha, James Coleman, Christo, then of course Martin Margiela, he is a fashion designer but to me he is an artist. I was very seduced by the early projects of Matthew Barney. In a way Margiela and Barney had both a new freedom in approaching things and materials…

Barney in introducing new fields like sports or forms coming from the medical fields into the territories of Art and to create the strangest synthesis among them, Margiela in the freedom to, for example, cut fearlessly into an old beautiful garment from the bottom to the top or to create a conceptual object that is not only wearable but extremely well wearable.

When I am under the impact of somebody’s work I work very hard to distinguish myself, to sharpen my position and to be lucid of what comes from where.


19. What inspires you to create?

I love to astonish myself, to invent things that are different, to allow myself a childlike freedom, to try to understand and extract from within myself the most particular part, the weirdest, to allow it to come up without any morality, to sharpen and articulate the infinitely small part in myself that makes me different from the others. I guess I am describing the process of any artist’s activity here, at least a part of it.


20. How do you handle the business side of being an artist?

I am young in the Art business, I collaborate with Bureau des videos, Paris, since many years. They showed a lot of my video works and edited Gallerande in 2006 as a DVD. To make installations or exhibitions with my objects is more recent. I earned my money since ever as a photographer, so I had a certain freedom not being dependant of an Art market and having no time pressure. I sometimes do websites which became another source of income. I sell my Artwork, have some collectors, hope to have more in the future and then I will see whether to eliminate other income sources to the advantage of what I love to do most. Things take their direction by themselves and I evolve with them.


21.On what are you currently working? And where are you going with it?

I am preparing a proposition for an installation in Vienna in an Art space, made of objects and collages and the presentation of my most recent film Transport, which is the transport of 9 traveling chairs through the city of Vienna from the Song Song gallery to my home there. 13 people are involved, 9 sitting one after another on traveling chairs holding on to the handles of the next chair in line. 2 people push the whole tail through the city and two cameramen are shooting. It seems an impossible action but did function to the astonishment of many looking at us rolling through the streets of Vienna.


22. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

hm….


23. Why are you an artist?

As much as I had understood very early in my life that a world without art would be nothing, it took me a long time to accept that I see things in my personal way and that my greatest satisfaction and joy rely in the fact to express and articulate that. It is an ongoing research that seems to have just begun and I see it not only as an engagement but also a responsibility towards myself and others, however with the limit to never take myself too overly seriously.