Charlott Markus Amsterdam, Netherlands
Charlott Markus is originally from Ystad, Sweden, but currently residing in Amsterdam in The Netherlands. Her work takes its inspirations from a specific context or location and with the use of historic references and a symbolic language every little detail in an image or an installation becomes important. Nothing is coincidental in Markus’ work. A precise balance is tangible in the composed entity of Markus: an entity between color and form, order and chaos, narration and abstraction. She constructs still lives and arrangements that predominantly end up as photographic series but also often as site-specific spatial pieces. Markus’ work has been widely exhibited in The Netherlands and abroad.
Charlott Markus was chosen by photographer Birthe Piontek.
Laatikkomo’s interview with Charlott Markus, April 7th, 2014.
L: Where are you from? What cities, and/or countries have you lived in – or what places have influenced you?
CM: Spaces, places and their inhabitants always have a big impact on me and I can’t think of a single place that I have lived that did not have had some influence on me. I was born and raised in a small coastal town in the furthermost south of Sweden and despite living abroad for many years, I guess I am still very much Scandinavian. After growing up in Sweden I lived for some time in London, Copenhagen and Amsterdam, where I currently reside. I find that every journey I make and every place that I live, whether for a short or long period of time, leaves a scent, a color or a story in the back of my mind. I find that these traces have a lasting influence on my life and my work. So for me installation and the rendering of space rather than just hanging framed photographs on a wall, is very important. Also the meaning of objects and their personal context always play a major role for me.
L: What is your earliest memory of photography?
CM: One significant childhood memory of mine was that I had a strong longing at one point to be able to buy my own camera and to be able to make my own images. I remember selling Christmas magazines door-to-door to be able to save money and finally I managed to buy my own bright red Konica POP compact camera. Considering the choice of camera I clearly didn’t know anything about photography. The images coming out were nothing resembling art, but the feeling of freedom and happiness that came with it and how I used it to capture my memories is fascinating now when I look back, in light of the work that I make today.
L: Your images are a hybrid between sculpture/installation and photography. What role do you give photography? (Is it primarily a means to document an ephemeral set-up or are you mentally composing of your photographs while you are constructing the arrangements/still lifes? )
CM: In making a photo you decide all of the ingredients, the light, the subject matter, the angle of view, and the composition. I definitely mentally compose my photographs while constructing the still lifes and even though intuition plays a major role I leave little to chance. Photography as a medium allows me to have this control. This is probably also why it has been interesting for me to break the frame of the photograph and work both spatial and sculptural, not only using the photographic medium as the final result but to place the photographs within a spatial frame or even have a result where there is no image but only a reference to photography.
L: Color holds a very integral role in your work. There are often planes of solid color, and in several works you specifically are using primary colors. What is your most vivid experience of color?
CM: One of my most vivid experiences of color is connected to travelling. When I was young, I travelled for almost a whole year in Asia and it was the first time I consciously saw a connection between colors and emotions and more importantly saw color as a means for communication and symbolic value. I had an intense experience of awe when I saw the breathtaking view of the blue city of Jodhpur, in India. When I later learned that the houses where painted blue so the Brahmins living in them could feel closer to heaven and the gods I saw me a new understanding of the connection between color and spirituality in combination with social aspects (the Indian cast system). I had the same extreme and vivid sensation years later when standing in front of certain abstract paintings, the intensity of both Rothko and Malevich paintings have provoked me so strongly they moved me to tears.
L: One of your series of images “Untitled” (made in New York using an abandoned building and found objects) visually reminds me of the photography work by Alejandra Laviada. Although I think you are both working from different conceptual directions, I can see a visual link between the two of you:
Do you see any connection between the work you do and the work of Alejandra Laviada?
CM: There is definitely some form of connection between our works but I can sense different starting points even though we seem to make similar kind of frame works for ourselves.
A friend, who also saw a connection, introduced me to Alejandra’s work after seeing my Untitled series and I have been an admirer since. Both of us obviously have an interest in sculptural and painting aspects in relation to photography but we seem to build and look at our canvases differently. Alejandra’s work emphasizes the transitional state of being while my work tends to deal more with the dislocation of things. Regarding the two series with holes in the walls I really like the fact that Alejandra made her holes and I was mending found holes. I guess the connection is that we seem to use the same kind of ingredients and tools but we end up telling very different stories. I look forward to meet her one-day.
L: Could you list 5 (or more) words that you were thinking about when you made this work?
CM: Language, Color, Remnants, Connotations, Sculpture.
L: Part of the Laatikkomo project asks the artists to choose the next photographer in their link of photographers. Without revealing the identity of the artist you have chosen, can you express what qualities are you looking for in the artist you will choose, what criteria will guide your choice?
CM: I have chosen someone who both touches me and intrigues me but who works completely differently from me. Someone who has a lot to say and who’s last project deserves a huge audience. Their work impresses me, it is a great quality when someone can make an allegory out of something small and make me see the whole world.
Thank you so much Charlott!