Enigmatic London-based photographer Marco Sanges has shot for everyone from Vogue to Agent Provocateur, offering up his mysterious, erotic take on black and white photography. He takes time off before the launch of Phantasmagoria, his exhibition at Proud Camden, to reveal his inspirations.
Can you give an introduction to Phantasmagoria?
It’s an imaginary cinema of nudity and voyeurism, sexuality and costume, danger and play. My black and white photography is inspired by sequential nature of cinema, particularly the luminous black and white films of the silent era. My work traces a narrative of imagination and desire.
How do you create the optical trickery and illusions in your photographs?
Although I am fascinated by digital arts, I strongly believe in the immortality of film, the real essence of photography and I always expect the picture to be perfect at the first attempt. Photography is a mystery and every mystery should remain unveiled.
What inspires you to take such surreal and dreamy photographs?
The gallery of inspirers is endless. From Paintings by Ernst, Dali, Otto Dix, Schiele, Manet etc, to Film. Bunuel’s work inspired me throughout the years. The first films I saw of his encouraged me to follow further the Surrealism path: Cocteau, Jodorowsky, Bergman, Fellini, Fritz Lang, etc. They all inspire me for different reasons. Some for the characters they create, their surrealism, the elaborate sets – but they all lead me to an imaginary world of cinema.
Has your childhood in Rome shaped your artistic vision?
I spent a lot of time on the dreamy seaside of Ostia where big filmmakers like Frederico Fellini and Paolo Pasolini worked.
Why did you leave Italy for London?
When I left I travelled and ended up in London by chance, but also because I was thrilled by Bill Brandt’s foggy, dark and mysterious black and white photographs.
What do you like or dislike about London?
Despite the ultra-modernism of the city, I still have the nostalgia of “Old Britain”, which is present in my work. I also find London cosmopolitan and architecturally diverse. Its dynamic, avant-garde style is perfectly combined with the influx of multi-foreign cultures; in these I find characters and interesting locations to experiment with.
You turned your photo book Circumstances into a film. How does film offer you a different creative outlet?
I always thought that my pictures were extensions of films. Circumstances was first a book and then with my closest collaborator Alberto Bona we thought to collect part of Circumstances book’s photographic stills, mixing them with my other images, creating a unique short film called Circumstances. The film won awards at the Portobello Film Festival and at the Open Cinema Film Festival in St. Petersburg.
If you had an infinite budget, what would be your dream shoot?
A feature film. I would hire Buckingham Palace for a photographic project and I would get the royals involved.
What is it about the female form that makes it appear in so much of your work?
Gaston Bachelard says in his essay of Phenomenology of Roundness: “images of full roundness help us to collect ourselves.” The curvaceous presence and grace of nudes in my work are always in function and in harmony with the geometry of the scenes I create.
What are you most proud of out of your work?
I am proud of all my work as I always stayed true to my photography. Recently my artwork became part of the permanent collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in USA.
Do you have any other projects your working on at the moment?
Every mystery should remain unveiled.
Phantasmagoria: Photographs by Marco Sanges, runs at Proud Camden, 26th July – 30th September 2012
Words: Christabel Reed