Interview with Marco Antonio
I know the work of photographer Marco Antonio since the beginning, when he was a hotbed of ideas, he wanted to take pictures of many subjects that interested him, and was involved in collective actions. When he told me that he was into a long-term project, based on solid ideas, ready to delve into a subject that was close to him, I realized that he was talking about something important. We were at the beginning of Camping, his most ambitious personal project.
We’ve been talking for a long time about the development of his project Camping, about how the primary idea was growing into something more complex, with its ramifications and variations. From this discussions came out the possibily of making an interview showing the progress of his work, the challenge of facing a weighty project, with its breaks and intense moments. The following interview was made up of notes, exchanging ideas and viewing his pictures.
Seeking Magazine: Why do you take pictures?
Marco Antonio: Well! It’s a complicated question. I think I’ve been asking myself about this for a long time, but it’s something like this: at first, you do it because you have a ravenous appetite for taking pictures of everything, you are sensitive to all that surrounds you, everything stimulates you, here and there… everything. You are happy. You just want to capture what you like, what attracts you, with no worries. Your brain generates pleasure. Little by little all of this disappears. You’ve already captured the rainbow, you’ve taken a picture of yourself in front of a mirror and many other things … little by little you start making yourself questions.
Then, you start to control that energy, you don’t take so many pictures. Your pleasure is no longer the same, it goes changing and you start taking small challenges, and you like that. You discover that all this subject, so democratized and accessible to people, is more interesting than you ever thought. It goes beyond the fact of taking pictures and storing them. It is a language and you are interested in all its codes: books, lectures, etc… I begin to grow with this. I’m like a sponge and I realize I’m learning to channel.
I take photographs because of all these questions and challenges that I find day by day.
SM: What has this Project, Camping, meant to you? When did you decide that you would focus all your energies on it?
MA: This is the first project I do and I don’t have any other references to compare with, so I’ll speak on a personal level. It has meant: growing, meeting wonderful people who helped me with this all. Reflect on things I wouldn’t reflect on before I got involved in this project. Thinking in Camping has helped me to observe people, look at people who I’ve been meeting with for a long time, and who I never paid much attention to. Reflecting on territory, interaction with it and interaction among people and territory, and above all, asking myself: why? And what for?
I am very passionate and extreme, so I’m focusing all my attention to move forward on this project. It’s true that this can wear you out easily, and I took a lot of time to realize that a project can’t be done overnight, so I’m also learning to ration out.
SM: When considering to photograph life in a campsite, did you take on account other references as a starting point?
MA: American photographers like Joel Sternfeld, Stephen Shore, Alec Soth are references. But, as I started to know new photographers and new visions, Camping got more and more enriched.
SM: How is your working process before taking the picture? What I call “no camera work”.
MA: I’ll tell you how I do now because the way I work has go changing.
I find very difficult the subject I’m working on. At first, there are lots of stimulus. There are many things and ideas are not clear. You know there’s something that attracts you a lot, but you don’t know what it is. I’ve been organizing them in a mental map in which all the people, things and places that are between this project and me appear. Everything that surrounds me is full of questions and possible answers.
SM: In which way the place has influence on you when taking the pictures?
MA: I know these places from my childhood and they are full of memories. Many of the pictures I take, I’ve seen them in the pictures my parents, my friends and people who go to campsites took before. Other pictures remind me the way we escape from the city, going to a place where this city we’re running from is still patent. The passage of time is also evident and has its influence on these places.
SM: In which way people you photograph have influence in the project?
MA: I know many of the people I photograph, but not everyone. Those in the pictures and those who are not, have influenced in everything. They have brought up issues such as: territory, escaping from the city, life on weekends and many concepts that I have been assimilating.
SM: How important are the people closest to you in the development of the project?
MA: I have tried to involve all people who are close to me. Any point of view is valid to develop ideas.
SM: Delving into your photographs, I realized that there are small groups of pictures organized in different subjects. Why?
MA: It was (and still is, as the process goes on), a way to embrace and put in order several subjects. The genesis of this movement, the pressure, the passing of time and the interior shots that could speak about the characters.
SM: Have you been marked by some of these pictures? Or I’d rather ask, which photographs must be on the project due to their importance?
MA: Yes, some of the pictures have been starting points for me.
It was hard to find a reason for the picture of the girls plucking their eyebrows. I knew there was something on it, but I coudn’ t see it clearly. I took that picture, and later on, while I was editing and with some help, I realized that it represents the interaction between people. And from there, I thought out the idea. The house in the air, the man crouched down on a piece of artificial lawn, the small photographic series… I have leaned on several pillars. As I said, this work is in progress, so there’s a lot to do.
SM: Do you take notes about the development of the project?
MA: Yes, I started doing it a bit late because I thought it wasn’t necessary, but it has helped me a lot.
I wrote first in one of those cool notebooks and now I do it on a large sheet of paper. It has helped me in some way to put my ideas in order.
©Photographs by Marco Antonio.