Me and the Devil
Marta Kaczmarek is a photographer from Warsaw, Poland who has spent some of her time living in Portugal. In the story, 'Me and the Devil' Marta explores the symbolism of red color and the way it merges with the narrative influencing the meaning and the perception of the eye. Certain shades of red are present in clothes, as a background, and in negatives that expand the medium used. Experimenting with film photography and stretching the end product with post-production to reveal additional angles is a layer that transforms the end product.
The inquisitiveness about the possible shapes and the curious way the body appears in negatives, the readiness to explore like taking a photo of smoke coming from the ground, engages the senses to finally grasp an idea behind 'Me and the Devil.'
"RED IS FREQUENTLY USED AS A SYMBOL OF GUILT, SIN, AND ANGER, OFTEN AS CONNECTED WITH BLOOD OR SEX".
What is the main idea for this shooting and the feeling you wanted to convey with the work?
The story develops the idea of cultural associations when it comes to color. Red is frequently used as a symbol of guilt, sin, and anger, often as connected with blood or sex. Both the Greeks and the Hebrews considered red a symbol of love, as well as sacrifice. This, in turn, leads to some strangely poetic dissonances - between guilt and sacrifice, love and anger, sin and red bridal dresses in China where it carries a largely positive connotation. The more I think about those dissonances, the more I see harmony within them. And then, it truly thrills me - that all those associations may be summed up as the most accurate life description. What drives us, what makes it all that vivid and worth living.
Tell about the visual decisions for the final version of the story like the contrasts of deep red and nude colors?
During the shooting, I felt a bit overwhelmed by the intensity of the red color. We were trying to develop the very same idea with a beige background. Back then we were at that strong point of immersing ourselves in red, that it had immediately influenced other shots. It seems that it emphasizes the general impression in the end product.
How do you approach post-production of the photos, the effects you choose for the specific work like blurring the image and creating negatives while processing film that becomes the end product?
Since this story is quite abstract and it doesn’t contain any line of traditional visual narration, I decided to go forward using post-production. I don’t feel like post-produced photography has to be less noble these days - I’d rather appreciate this medium of expression as my weapon.
Blurring the image seemed to be quite intuitive, just as distortions and image deconstruction. However, negatives indeed are raw analog pictures with red applied onto them.
"THERE WAS ONLY AN OLD FACTORY ON THE HORIZON. I STARTED TO WALK AROUND TO PASS THE TIME AND THEN FOUND THOSE HOLES IN THE GROUND WITH SMOKE ISSUED FROM THEM".
Describe the photo that you took outside with smoke filling the air and some rough environment which became the part of the series.
I took this one in my hometown while I got stuck in the middle of nowhere after getting off a bus at the wrong station. Definitely, I didn’t feel safe at all. It was quite shady and seedy. There was only an old factory on the horizon. I started to walk around to pass the time and then found those holes in the ground with smoke issued from them.
Kind of place where you think both "Okay, so this is where Laura Palmer could die" and "Shoot instead of overthink, please.”
So I did.
It took me seconds after developing the film to realize that this is the part of the story of the color red. And this place is nothing but another shade of red.