There's a hauntingly dark side to Marco Sanges's art — one that teases and taunts the viewer to look deeper. Disconcerting yet beautiful, his images reveal surreal stories while still enshrouded in mystery.
The London-based photographer and multidisciplinary artist discovered photography at an early age. He was working at his uncle's lab and recalls being fascinated by the craft and the process of developing and printing black & white prints. "My uncle inspired me to grab the camera and take the first shot. This stayed with me until today and I keep following what I learned from him. I am still using analogue and printing the photographs straight from the negative in the darkroom."
Tell us more about how you got involved with photography.
Since I was a child I have been fascinated by black and white films. I wanted my photographs to express a cinematic style. My first ever photography experience was when I borrowed the camera from the lab and ran out to the seaside to shoot some friends and waves. Excitement and shivers were going through my spine when I was running back to develop the films. The experience was overwhelming. I quickly realized that photography was in my life to stay and I was determined to pursue my career.
Technology has made it easier for photographers and artists alike to create digitally. What draws you to film photography?
I was born with film photography, it is part of me. I feel comfortable with it and I like the excitement of having to wait for the processing before seeing any results. I don’t think film ever really died. Analogue photography has been around for over a century. I also think that film brings quality to images that cannot be compared with digital images. Shooting film gives me no choice but to slow down, compose my shot, meter my light correctly and wait for the right moment.
Whether in color or black & white, your photos depict darkness, mystery, and surrealism. Is it a conscious effort or something that comes to you instinctively?
I developed my style of photography further based on the dream imaginary, evoking multi-layered stories. Surrealism was the form of art that captivated my imagination of adolescence period. My approach to photography is instinctive, no matter whether I am working on a project, a single image or a particular composition.
Let's say you're asked to present only one image (among all your work) to represent you, which would it be and why?
I must have shot more than 1 million images, it's hard to find one that represents me but I have one coming up in my mind. It is Circumstances n'37. I think the idea of an apparition at night in a lonely city enhances the sense of mystery and drama between the lights and the shadows. It depicts emotionally isolated figures that inhabit anonymous urban spaces and I found it fascinating. The marble effect, the stiffness of the mannequin in the shop at night gives the feeling that someone forgot the light on.. And the scene appeared.
This image is now part of the Centre of Creative Photography Museum in Arizona in the USA.
How did you come up with the concept for your upcoming exhibit, Wunderkamera?
About Wunderkamera, I wanted to play with virtual reality by mixing elements. superimpose them in multiple layers. The resulting compositions reveal the various states of consciousness of the character and explore the dualities between content and absence, space and surface creating a scene from an imaginary world. From new kinds of compositions and perspectives to photomontage, technical experiments, and staged scenes, I wanted to rediscover the range and multifacetedness of photography between the real and the surreal.
Could you share the details of the exhibition?
My.next exhibition will take place at the Château de Dampierre in France from the 28th of September until the 11th of November. The poetry and dreamlike world of the photographs will extend the mystery of Alchemy that is the very magic of the place since Fulcanelli’s writing. The castle is an architectural gem with its sculpted gallery with mysterious alchemical decoration. It has been visited by prestigious guests, from François 1st to Louis XIII, and later the surrealist painter Salvador Dali, whose engraves on Alchemy are exhibited permanently at the Castle.
Discover more of Marco Sanges's enchanting images and check out his website.