Some places need a second glance, or at least a pair of artistic eyes to see their understated beauty. Here, international photographer Marcela Ferri takes a break from her commercial career and creates a series of illusions of bygone times in various coastal cities. Marcela approaches her subjects through a Kubrickesque lens where locations are real, but are from borrowed periods of time. We recently caught up with her and she told us all about her exciting, new series.
Hi Marcela! Welcome back to Lomography Magazine! Firstly, how's life as a photographer as of the moment?
Thanks for having me :) So far, 2018 has been pretty busy on the photography front. I’ve had the chance to spend a bit of time at “Magnum”:https://www.magnumphotos.com/ and get to know some amazing photographers, editors and commissioners all involved with and creating some pretty interesting stuff, also got some new work published in the US and had some of my work (which is part of this series), exhibited in Los Angeles during MOPLA.Now I’m carrying on with 3 ongoing projects, together with a new one and some large format photography classes.
Thanks for sharing your series “1789” with us. You described the series as a dream sequence in the English seaside, what attracted you to this place?
I moved to the UK in 2011 and my first task was to get to understand the culture and the place as much as I could. During my first years here I was actively walking around, taking trains and visiting as many cities as possible and, as I originally come from a tropical country, the most natural thing was to get to know the seaside, which is one of the things I miss the most.
I remember the first time I went to Brighton, it was Easter 2011, I was fascinated about how different everything was in comparison to the places I had spent all my summer holidays during my childhood, go to Brazilian beaches with fine sand and coconut trees. At the same time, in a strange way, there were some noticeable similarities everything felt really foreign, which attracted me to travel more and see what’s out there and it’s fascinating.
The concept behind the dream sequence is to convince the viewer that those places are real but are not at the same time. The same when you watch some of Stanley Kubrick’s films and you can’t tell where and when it happened but you believe it, I like to create this alternate reality to allow people to interact and create their own stories using my work as a base.
What's with "1789" as the title? How was it a “great year’”?
Do you know when someone who doesn’t really understand wine is introduced to a 1986 Chateau Vah Vah Voom and, not knowing what to say to the sommelier, the person comes with the comment: “Oh yeah 1986 was a great year!”
I wasn’t born in 1789 so is hard for me to say for sure that it was a great year, but if you go back to world history class, many important things happened that year as for example:
George Washington was unanimously elected the first President of the United States, by the United States Electoral College. The Inconfidência Mineira was the first attempt at Brazilian independence from Portugal. The French Revolution (1789–1799) begins with the Storming of the Bastille. William Herschel discovers Enceladus, one of Saturn's moons. Pennsylvania ends prohibition of theatrical performances. William Wilberforce makes his first major speech in the House of Commons on the abolition of the slave trade. Former slave Olaudah Equiano's autobiography The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano became one of the earliest works to be published by a black writer.
And something I’ve learned quite early is how important heritage is here in the UK, so it was a playful way to mix it with good memories and feed into the dream sequence.
While doing this series, what were you usually thinking? What was the most prominent thought you had?
Visually I was after the contrast between the old and the new, marrying it in a whimsical way to be able to tell my story and engage the viewer at the same time.
If you could photograph just one thing, person, or place for the rest of your life, what, who, or where would that be?
I think this is the hardest question I could possibly answer, especially when you realize that my work motto is freedom but, if I was granted the rights and budget to stay in one place carrying on with my work I think I would pick the United States.
It’s quite of a broad answer but I’m already doing that, not with the same intensity and depth as I would like to, but still it’s a start… it would be amazing to be able to spend some time in the desert, more than I normally do, and cover as many stories as possible.
Describe to us—what's a day in the life of Marcela Ferri?
Are you ready for the most boring routine ever? Haha. It depends really.
I meditate every morning, then work as I’m a freelance producer in advertising as well as a photographer. I read, study French, do a bit of research, go to exhibitions, do yoga, play with my cat, spend quite some time on Instagram (please say hi if you end up checking my “profile”:http://www.instagram.com/marcelaferri), go to the film lab, and when the time allows, I see friends and talk to my family… so yeah pretty standard I would say.
What do you usually do during your downtime? Any on-going projects, or other plans in the future?
Most of my downtime is dedicated to creating new work, nerdy I know, but it’s what makes me happy. I’m one of those people that if you start to talk about photography, I will go on and on and on for hours, especially when looking at mixing films and cameras and whatever technique, it’s my playground.
I have my ongoing projects with the LGBTQIA community in London and LA, which I’m willing to expand to NYC and Paris. There’s also the exploration of the desert in California, something I’ve been doing for the past 2 years now.I’ll still carry on with the series we are showcasing here together with some other work. It would be awesome to to do an exhibit again, something I’m hoping to do but this time presenting a mixed-media project. If anyone wants to help I’ll be happy to hear from you, hello galleries!
There’s quite a bit of R&D going on at the moment, which I find quite nice actually, as photography is something that goes beyond the image but requires quite a bit of studying and observation beforehand, at least to me.