Marianna Rothen is both a photographer and a model who often photographs her model friends. One of her first shows was a group show with Richard Kern — fitting, as 'women in crisis' seems to be the common theme between the two. But Marianna captures more silent and contemplative women than Kern does; her subjects are taking a pause from their affairs to have fun. Her aesthetics refer to the '50s, when second-wave feminists had just started to rev their engines. When looking at Rothen's photographs, we are staring at still innocent women who are just beginning to experiment with the full potential of their power. We spoke with her regarding the launch of her new book Snow and Rose.
Let's talk about your latest project: your book. How did it come to mind? What is it about?
Roger Eberhard from b.frank books wrote to me saying that he could see my photographs working well in book form and that he would love to make my first book. Roger and I collaborated on the concept, Alexandra Bruns designed it, but it was very easy as we both had similar ideas. We wanted it to feature my women and have it be like a fairytale book, with different chapters. A slow evolution from the confines of a domestic life to freedom and independence. It is of course meant to be humorous as well! Laid out like a film, with mico narratives stringing it together.
Tell us about the location where you shot most of these photos. It's at the Church of the little Green Man, if I'm remember correctly.
All of the photos were shot in Upstate New York. On Spring and Summer weekends I would try to be up there shooting, begging my friends to let me shoot at their house, trailer or land. Some of the girls I've shot live up there as well, like Hollie Witchey and Ambika Conroy. Josh Druckman from Outlier Inn Recording has hosted us several times.. as well as artist Mike Osterhout, who has a rectory and yes, the Church Of The Little Green Man, has also hosted the shoots. There is still service at CLGM, 2-3 times a year.
Tell us about the influences behind this book: Faye Dunaway, the solitude & recluse life, the feminine world, a mysterious sexuality?
It is a bit of a mad world where all the glorious women, like Faye Dunaway, go and live together in the forest - haha, wouldn't that be great! I love to take the influence from the iconic women who are very feminine but also very strong. These actresses were so alive... I take them out of society as they've know it and transfer them into mythical beings. Its like a unicorn you have found in a clearing in the enchanted forest. To me these pictures are sensual but not necessarily sexual, the comradery between the girls is still sisterly and pure.
What are your next projects?
I have been working on a series of short films with photographs, also about women who are escaping society... but they are less innocent.