World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 61 - Marinka Masséus
In the Photo exhibition “Welkom long Papua Niugini” (Welcome to Papua New Guinea) in WM Gallery in Amsterdam I saw photos of Marinka Masséus of the inhabitants of Papua New Guinea, the eastern part of the island of New Guinea. Fascinating black/white photos of Papuan warriors in traditional dance, portraits with painted faces and also documentary footage of the life there. It was a combined exhibition together with Wanda Michalak, about whom we previously wrote a piece.
On a sunny summer day I speak Marinka on the terrace of the Vondelpark pavilion, where once was the Filmmuseum. She sits in a blue dress under a parasol. She does both travel photography as well as studio portraits. Both types are based on a fine art approach, an artist’s eye. Her central theme is people, especially portraits.
It’s almost unbelievable, but Marinka is only two years serious about photography. During this time she won already awards. She won this year’s Gold medal and three silver and one bronze at the “Prix de la Photographie Paris”, she was at the number one place at the International Color Awards, she got an IPA Photo Award, was Travel Photographer of the Year 2014 in England, and her pictures were exhibited in Germany, Amsterdam and London and published in books worldwide.
But as we could have imagined she had already previously a camera in her hands. She even grew up with it. Her father was a photographer, and at nine she got his old black and white camera. She was averse to the technique, she put literally her fingers in the ears. Photography was for her a spontaneous response to the world around her, she did everything on intuition. And even though she mastered the technique through her training at the Photo Academy in Amsterdam, she still works intuitively. Marinka: ‘I know all about technique now. Secretly I want to forget it.’
What do I want?
She made her travel photos in Papua New Guinea, Myanmar, Namibia, Cuba, Bolivia, Hong Kong. London and Paris. Photography is essential for Marinka. ‘Photography is like breathing, an instinctive thing.’ She loves the whole process. ‘I like every aspect, shooting, editing, printing, making passe-partouts, framing and exhibiting. It makes me happy.’
Although most of her time goes to photography, this is not her only occupation. Ahe also appears to be a coach and studied Business Administration in Groningen and next the Trainers Academy in Amsterdam. She has a private practice and helps highly skilled people who got stuck in their work. ‘People who wonder, what do I want?’ For Marinka both with coaching and photography it’s people first. ‘In both cases the other person’s story is central, I’m a short time part of it. In this way allowed in a person’s life, I feel as special.’
What will she do in the near future? ‘I feel the need to start a big project already for a year. What’s going to be? I have decided not to seek myself. The project had to find me. Then the ideas came. If you ask me for a key work: I suspect that a key work will emerge from these new ideas. But it has to grow. I want to keep it close to me so that the process of crystallization can feed me.’
But apart from the long-term project, she can mention two other works which might fit in. Key works in the sense of work that represent a turning point in her photography. In the first place the Papua-series that hangs in the WM Gallery. ‘These are graphic images that fall into the category Fine Art. It’s a challenge for me to give documentary / travel photography a graphic aspect. Hence, many of my travel photography is in black and white.’
Parasol in the air
And secondly there is the series Silent Voices. ‘That’s about gender inequality in the world, the disparity between men and women. The photos are Rembrandt-like.‘ Women and their position go to her heart. She says that women will play an increasingly important role in her work. Both in her travel pictures as her studio photos. ‘When I focus on this, bundle my energy, and move, then more and more will come to my path.’
There’s a wind emerging. The parasol almost disappears in the air. We just can grasp it. Is there a nice final thought? There is. Marinka: ‘It is my deepest wish that my photography will positively contribute to anything societal.’