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Interview with Photographer Marie Tomanova

Brooklyn based photographer Marie Tomanova takes self-portraits in the likes of Cindy Sherman and Francesca Woodman. Her work has been shown at A.I.R. Gallery in New York, OTGF in Los Angeles, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center in Philadelphia, Black Box Gallery in Portland and the Ars Gallery, Galerie Slevarna and Reduta in Czech Republic. Marie displays the relationship between body and space to reveal the vulnerable journey of gender, identity and sexuality. Today she shares with us the inspiration behind her latest body of work Positive Biology, a sneak peak into her future projects, and her relationship with the millennial obsession of  ‘selfies.’ Be sure to check out her show ‘CYBERFEMINISM’ opening tonight November 11 at A.I.R gallery. More information here.

What inspired you to start your series Positive Biology? What was the creative process like? 

I started taking photos after I came to NYC and saw Francesca Woodman’s show in Guggenheim. Her work resonates with me very deeply. I am originally a painter and have always been interested in self portraiture and exploration of “self”. But photography gave me whole new perspective and I have fallen in love with it. I was new to New York and I loved to explore places with my camera. The first few years in NY were quite lonely because I didn’t have many friends and family here so I posed for myself in pictures. I realized that it gave me a rush and felt very satisfying! I love the creative energy of being behind and also in front of the camera and being in charge of the whole process. I also felt very comfortable looking at pictures of myself in places that I have visited for the first time. Somehow, in my head, I felt that I didn’t belong to the surroundings but I was there in the pictures. It all started as an exploration of the fact that I am living so far from my home for the first time. And developed into a beautiful journey of exploring myself and my sexuality.

This series features self portraits. What is the process like photographing yourself?

It is fun and an almost meditative process for me. I search for places that inspire me and are not too crowded. I love to shoot outside, in the woods, on a deserted beach… I love to get naked and become part of the landscape and run around. It feels liberating and rebellious at the same time. I like to shoot alone and I can spend hours running in front and back of the camera. It is less stressful than taking pictures of other people because I don’t feel pressured to take the perfect photo that the model, stylist or client will like. It is just me and my own world and I can get lost in it.


 What is your opinion on selfies? Do you love thy selfies?

I think selfies are amazing and ridiculous at the same time. There are so many different kinds of “selfies.” I think it is a great way to record your memories, preserve your life in pictures, communicate with the world around you and also a way to express yourself. At the same time, I get annoyed when I go to the Whitney and people are taking selfies with the art instead of trying to feel and experience it. Sometimes it seems like a selfie competition. It can get very shallow.

When I was younger I spent lots of time writing journals. I desperately wanted to record my feelings and events that were important to me. And I loved to read through it months later and see it in a different light with the distance of time. It was fascinating for me. Selfies very often serve as a visual journal and I like that.


Where are these photos taken? How was it working in these locations? Did any interesting stories come about?

Photos in Positive Biology are from lots of different places around the States from years 2013-15. I have many sweet memories connected to the photo “Jeans Jacket” which I took in Northern California where I lived in trailer in the middle of Redwoods for a few months. It was a magical place with deers and wild boars and a sky full of stars! The “Waterfall” photo was taken upstate NY last winter. It was so cold that it totally froze and I could climb onto it. I was naked, freezing and scared to death that I will fall through the ice. Luckily, I never got caught naked in public places. I am very careful about that. But all of my close friends are used to seeing me naked when we go for trips or when I am running around their apartment with my camera.



Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why? 

I have few favorites within the Positive Biology series that I’ve been showing in galleries a lot but usually recent photos are my most favorite. I can’t wait to print photos from my latest trip to Maine. I love big prints! My favorite is the naked photo with vivid orange smoke between my legs. I like the composition, the colors, the memory of it. It was such a magical trip!


Within the photography community, who are you most inspired by? Who is your dream collaboration with (dead or alive)? 

My ultimate collaboration partner would definitely be Francesca Woodman. I would love to live with her, share ideas and create together! Among others I love Ren Hang, Ryan McGinley and Nan Goldin.


What’s next?

I’m taking off to California to work on a photo project for a month. I am super excited to get out of the city and recharge energy and good vibes in California woods! And I am putting together my first solo show that I will launch in 2016! 

To see more, visit her website here. Marie can be found online @marietomanova.


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