Photo-eye Interview

Lucas Shaffer:     What inspired the When the Room Becomes Water portfolio?

Marina Black:     A few years ago, two of my friends died suddenly — one of them committed suicide. Both suffered from depression. These two deaths happened so unexpectedly, so close to one another that they made me kind of forget how to speak my own language. As a way of dealing with it, I began photographing the series Half of the Room — making portraits of people who experienced loss and trauma. However, the images I was making were as much about me as they were about the people I was photographing, as if my hands were rifling in the coffin for the aching phantoms of my own life. It seemed only natural to continue on the inevitable journey of exploring this place, this room that exists inside me. Thus the series of self-portraits When The Room Becomes Water began, as an attempt at making a name for the dark parts of me

LS:     Have you been able to name the ‘darker parts of yourself’? Has the process of making these images brought about any new personal awareness or change in personal behavior?

MB:     Imagine you’re looking out at the field that is covered by a fog; you can tell that there is something in it but you can’t quite make it out. If you sit long enough you begin to recognize the shape of the tree, for instance. The more you allow yourself to experience something, the more pronounced it becomes. And perhaps you’d like to see more. It’s not out of bravery for me, but somewhat out of panic. The irony though is that the fog never entirely disappears. Just as it is difficult sometimes to tell the difference between dreams and memories, the line between ignorance and knowledge can be quite subtle …

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