At the heart of every photograph is a dilemma of conscience. From the very first to the last, each artistic choice that you make is another step farther from what’s in front of the camera and one step closer to you. Imagine if all the photos in your phone were projected at your wake one by one. Which story would this private series of photos tell? A story describing the world? Or one describing you?
Plump with retro-tinged colors and burnished with big wigs, big drama, and even bigger design, the photos in Marianna Rothen’s most recent projects use as many folds of narrative as it takes to step outside a one-off reading. Trusting your impulse to tease out meaning from an assemblage of symbols, she offers a chance to not simply look at the women, who are shot in various states of distress or liberation, but to understand their story. It’s in the fiction, the series of artistic choices that pull reality from artifice, that Rothen shows you where to look. “My approach is to create something that’s original and truthful,” she says. “If something is not labeled, it forces people to look at it innocently.”
I spoke to Rothen over email about her photobook Snow Rose and Other Tales and her approach to photography.