Marrigje has been my fellow artist-in-residence in Kathmandu for a few months. She's now back home in the Netherlands and I will miss our chats and her insightful comments. Before going, though, she gave a talk at a local art school:
During the last ten years, she's traveled through China, Laos, Thailand and Mongolia photographing interiors whose inhabitants are felt but rarely seen. In her monastery kitchens (the place between everyday life and religious life, as she put it), the pots, the hobs, the smoked walls, all speak of daily routines and the people who perform them and, in turn, are shaped by them. (She's also photographed Louise Bourgeois's kitchen and Brancusi's atelier. I wonder how those shaped them.)
She came to Nepal with a new pinhole camera, a beautiful wooden box whose outcomes are as unpredictable as potentially rewarding. Exposure times vary between ten minutes and two hours. As she explained, that changes the rules of the game. There is no 'decisive moment'. Photography becomes a time-based medium, a literal layering of moments.
Other technical peculiarities of her pinhole camera bring the results closer to human vision. There is no depth of field, everything is softly in focus at once. Since there is no lens, there are no perspective distortions. And it registers exactly what our eyes see without the interference of the brain, which by default does things like straightening the image. On the other hand, the longer exposure produces a colour shift, as the layers in the negative are allowed some chemical party time.
A final bonus about her new camera is that local people think it's some kind of toy. Take out of your bag a Hasselblad, set it up and you've already changed the feeling of the place. Take out a wooden lensless camera and people will keep business as usual, if anything amused by this European lady and her funny wooden box.
You can see more of Marrigje's photos at http://www.takeadreamforawalk.com/
Robert Cervera Amblar
Sculpture, installation, writing.