''Photography is a way for me to relate myself to others'': Mari Masouridou
20 feb 2017 by Despoina Tzanou
We caught up with Athens-based artist Mari Masouridou to talk about how she left the career of a lawyer to become an artist and what her creative practice is about. Mari tells us why she chooses photography as a medium to express her thoughts, what other media she employs and what the vision behind her work is.
A view of Mari Masouridou's studio.
D.T. How did your involvement in art begin?
M.M. My serious involvement in art didn’t start until relatively late. I was working as a lawyer until my mid-twenties when I realised that this wasn’t what I wanted to do in my life. I was always interested in photography and visual arts, but I never thought it was something I could pursue career-wise. While I was trying to figure things out for me, I enrolled in Focus school of photography and visual arts in Athens. From then my eyes totally opened up to art.
D.T. Why do you chose to express yourself through photography?
M.M. The photographic medium provides a safe environment for me to express myself freely. I love that photography allows me to play and experiment, manipulating, cropping or twisting images around, mixing reality and fiction to create illusions.
On a psychological level, photography is a way for me to relate myself to others. There is something in me that is a bit distant. I have a tendency of isolating myself, but at the same time, I have a great desire to be among others. So photography provides a way for me to do that. It helps me get really involved with other people and creates an intimate connection between myself and what I photograph, while I keep my personal space safe. I use photography in an attempt to understand other people and to truly understand myself.
I feel like everything in the world around me, life itself is very chaotic and complicated. There is a lot of ugliness. By creating simple, clean images, photography acts as an anchor and a way for me to simplify the world and remember the point of view that I had as a child when everything could be exciting and full of wonder. The photographic medium allows me to see the world with an open eye, almost as a child, which is fascinating and liberating as well.
D.T. Do you work in other media as well?
M.M. In earlier work I was interested in making audio or video recordings to accompany my pictures. In the beginning of a project, I don’t know exactly what I am going to use and how the work will be exhibited when it’s finished, so I collect material through any possible way. For 'Stripped' series, it was a combination of photos and 2 short video loops. 'Interspace' was an installation of a semi through plexiglass and placement of pictures around, above and bellow it.
Mari Masouridou, Twisted fork, 2016, work in progress.
D.T. Do you wish to create a narrative through your work? Are you interested in telling a story?
M.M. I like to experiment and work out different approaches for each of my projects, but there is always a narrative and a vision behind a series. At first, I started taking pictures in a more documentary style of photography. Later on, I got really fascinated by more abstracted narratives. In the 'Interspace' series, for example, each picture is a part of a whole. Pictures acquire their meaning from the way in which they have been sequenced and exhibited in nonlinear narrative structures. A story in the traditional sense is not a necessity for my work. I am interested in the creation of a visual experience.
D.T. How do you chose the locations you photograph and how important is it to your work?
M.M. Every time I have worked on a specific location until now it was because I was drawn there by a specific idea or a person. I might have ended up in a place by chance. I never really chose my locations. So I guess I feel that locations are not really important to me, it could have easily been someplace else without altering or affecting the final work. The editing process, how the photos are chosen, what order to place them, is part of the artistic process and is more important to me than where and how the photographs were taken in the first place. In my latest work, I try to eliminate as much as possible the notion of place.
D.T. What are the themes you are most interested in exploring in your work?
M.M. A reoccurring theme in my work is the loss of emotional connection, a feeling of disconnection, phenomena such as alienation and loneliness, issues regarding identity and solitude, reality and illusion.
My projects usually start from an urge to create a specific image or a fascination with an image that occurred randomly. Afterwards, through a reverse process, by analysing that picture and what it means to me I settle on a theme that interests me in that specific period of my life. I am also very intrigued by the idea of malfunction and misfit.
Mari Masouridou, NUDE IV and PLANT#3486, 2016, installation view at Beton7 Gallery, Athens Photo Festival.
D.T. Can you talk a little bit about your source of inspiration?
M.M. My work is based on my own set of life experiences, memories and relationships. I take inspiration from real and current events occurring in my life and my work starts out of my need to decompress and process the emotions that occur. I’m deeply inspired by nature, colours and geometric shapes. I also find transformations and scientific themes such as parallel universes and robotics really intriguing.
D.T. What has the exposure from the Hellenic Center for Photography, where you were selected as one of the as one of the Young Greek Photographers 2016, meant to you?
M.M. Exhibiting at the Benaki Museum in Athens Photo Festival was an amazing experience and I am very grateful that I was able to share my work with a greater audience. Being selected to participate was a confirmation of my work and gave me validation and a psychological boost to pursue my projects with more confidence.
D.T. What are you working on at the moment?
M.M. I have started a new project that mainly focuses on still lives and the idea of transformation and malfunction. By deforming and altering everyday objects I create this new form of a sculptural object and I photograph the final result. Distortion works for me as a metaphor for the loss of self and purpose. In a way, I explore the concept of how a new identity can emerge when the old one is lost.
Mari Masouridou, Man in hood, 2015, archival inkjet print on fine art Baryta paper, 35 × 52 cm.
Mari Masouridou is based in Athens, Greece. She studied photography at FOCUS School of Art & Photography in Athens (2015) and the International Center of Photography in New York. She holds a BA in Law and a MA in Commercial Law. Mari has been featured in Phases Magazine (2016) and Slaves to Atopos (2016), Issue #15, Self Publish, Be Happy / Atopos CVC. She has exhibited in group shows including Urban Bliss, Graphic (London, 2016); ‘Athens Photo Festival 2016 - Young Greek Photographers', Benaki Museum (Athens, 2016), ‘Temporarily Lost’ - Athens Photo Festival 2016, Beton7 Gallery (Athens, 2016), 5th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art, Depression Era Collective (Thessaloniki, 2015), Booze Cooperativa Gallery (Athens, 2015, 2014).
All images courtesy of the artist.