EK Interview: Mariska Karto

Mariska Karto was featured in July of this year.  Her ethereal and antique photography captivated us, and we wanted more, so we sought an interview and here it is.  Read the thoughts of Mariska and you may just learn a thing or two.

What authors of magical realism have been particularly influential for you?  

I think Salvador Dali is one of the greatest magical realist  painters.  But there are other painters with a substantial influence on my work:  Rembrandt van Rijn, Rubens, Jan Massys, Jan van Eyck, Caravaggio, Carraccien and others.


Some of your work addresses old fables, Greek mythology, the bible, do you think these stories have as much relevance today as they did then?  Do you think the core values of these stories are different than the values of today’s society?

Stories such as these are  the root of our existence.

We need these stories because we can identify us  with them.  Human emotions and intuitions have remained the same throughout  ages.  That’s a fact.  We recognize ourselves in these stories and, as a consequence, gain much wisdom from them about ourselves


Do you think that science and religion are competing ideas?  Or can they live in harmony?

Like a famous biologist once said, “There is no conflict, the conflict is exaggerated.  If God created the world then he needed science to build this world.  If you have both, knowledge and faith,  you’ll see the most wonderful things in the world around you”.  Science makes it possible to experience and view the world in different wonderful forms.

In nature even animals use technique,  one cannot do without the other.


How long does it take you to design the backdrop for each photo you take?  Where do you get the supplies?

It depends, sometimes it might take a few days to sketch a background on paper and sometimes it just takes five minutes of improvisation.  In the last case, I follow my intuition.  Sometimes I loan supplies from family and friends.  I often pay close attention to my surroundings to see if there are items  I can use in my shoots.  I also have a nice supply of textiles from my past days as a fashion designer.


What effects or editing do you do for your photos?

For my editing I only use my own photos, I don’t use stock photos.  I really like the idea my work is created entirely by my own hands.

During my time as an art-photographer I used different kinds of effects in different projects, it differs each period.


What have been some of the most influential art movements for you?  What have you learned from that particular movement?  What themes did it focus on that attracted you greatly?

The higly atmosspheres in the works  from the old masters in the baroque and renaissance periods have touched the deepest parts of my soul.  It was recognition.

In that time there was no photography.  Important questions, dramas, happines and other emotions could only be visually captured by craft art forms  such as painting

The themes in the works from then are still present in our world.

Sometimes I create a work, but I can’t axplain it.  Such works are created by intuition, based on how I experience things in life.  You can’t explain everything in life, that’s a fact.  I like that mystique of life.

I also recognize this mystique in paintings from the middle ages.


Tell us about Sweet dreams… Or not…?  Where were you emotionally during that piece?

“Sweet Dreams… Or Not…?” is a philosophical photo.  Sometimes my thoughts are drifting away,  this happens unconsciously,  its a process which happens whem I’m thinking about situations around me. In this period all sorts of things happened around me. Relations of people ended, loss, ending a dream.

Where things ends, something new will excist,  that is the beauty of this lifeprocess.  But this often takes place later.

Earlier before, often there’s a storm of emotions and even desperation.

Was was  there isn’t anymore.  Dreams are no longer in the air.  That is the feeling I wanted to express in this photo.


 When you’re feeling artistically drained where do you go for inspiration?

If my head is full of impressions and if too many images are entangled  my mind,  I’ll  take a time-out.  At such time it is important for me to find a calm state of mind and clear my head.  I take the time to connect to people who are important for me and, if I can, escape for a day or a weekend.  Total isolation is also helpful, just to be alone with only myself for a while is a perfect way to regain new energy.


What was the spark for your Insomnia Art series?  Where you sleep deprived the entire time you were taking the photographs for the series?  What is it about the insane, otherworldly mindset of sleep deprivation that fosters such good art?  Is it the rawness of expression?  The lack of filter?

These pictures were processed in the middle of the night.  Most of the pictures were shot early in the morning.  I also enjoy taking nature photographs.  I can sometimes really get upset  about the way  we treat our planet, we have to guard our planet and we are not doing our job well….  In this period it was hard for me to get sleep.  To avoid hearing the ticking of the clock and seeing the night slowly advance, I decided to make and process my nature photos, and they became as dark as the night surrounding me.  That’s how the Insomnia Artserie excisted. In that  time I was  very tired … Clear thinking was almost impossible, sometimes it seemed like reality and dreams were merging.  The dark nature photos were a kind of symbolic way to draw attention to the need to protect our planet, it was a complaint about how we, as the biggest polluters, are treating our planet.  We are the night for our own planet…

When dreams and raw reality start merging,  work becomes really strong, but you have to give up a part of yourself to the insomnia.  Eventually you have to learn to continue to lay in your bed and not do all sorts of things in the middle of the night, because that will keep you awake.  I still have nature photos lying around, and I still take new nature photos so the plan is to continue with this serie.


 What is something you have learned about yourself through your work that you were not aware of, or only vaguely aware of before?  What is something you have learned about the world through art?

If you stand in a field full of beautiful roses every day, then you won’t see them bloom anymore…

I try to fully enjoy the special moments, the people I’m connected to, the happy  moments.  I try to see these moments and to hold on to them, those moments give me strength, even the little precious ones.  They are the engine of life.


 Have you had any memorable dreams lately?

A dream that I had a few days ago: I was photographing a scene that was not actually a scene but real reality.

Dreams and reality are sometimes very close to one another, so it is important to remain standing with both feet on earth.