Marino Thorlacius

Team Snoop-Around visited Marinó´s new studio in the harbour area of Reykjavík,
where the quiet photographer welcomed us to his studio. He rarely describes his own work, as he likes to make it stand unexplained. We wanted to know more about this atmospheric and one of the most prominent photographer in Iceland today.

Marino Thorlacius_Photographer_Iceland_Snoop-Around_011©NannaDís2013

So you are a photographer and a designer?

I am in both; I am much more in photography now though. I learned NTV back in 2002, and was making record covers and such until maybe 2004 – 2005 when I bought my first camera. But I’m not a graphic designer.

Has the foreign press shown you much interest?

Yes, I have been in various photography magazines and such. But I am not very good in answering questions; I am not much of a front man in that way. I made a New Years resolution to be more available discussing my work further. These are two different kinds of groups that I work with, the field of advertisement and the art house field for the galleries. So it depends on which field is referred to.


Photographs: Marino Thorlacius

What is your favourite commissions project up to date?

Sruli is one of them, where I blended together what I wanted to do, and what needed to be done. I divide these areas actually, what is mine and what the commissionaires wants. Even though they request something that looks like some series that I have previously worked on, the work often ends up being very commercial. Working for Lexus in Japan was also a very fun experience and my collaboration with Jónas Valtýrsson is always a great thing.

“I rarely describe my work in words, and I never try to explain what I am doing so I feel it is very funny when others do”

How do you feel when others describe your work and photography?

Ahh, I don’t know. I rarely describe my work in words, and I never try to explain what I am doing so I feel it is very funny when others do. Some are very analytic and say that they sense loneliness, misery and even depression in my work. I can understand these elements very well actually in terms of my early work for example my book that was full of photographs in that atmosphere.

But I mainly am fascinated by locations and when people ask me, where my photographs were taken I don’t think it matters so they are missing my artistic point. For example I am taking photographs in different kinds of cities like Paris, Berlin and Tokyo and they all look the same. The photographs are empty with people and they portray distance. I often do not decide what I am doing beforehand. I am very fond of the weather and light than anything else, artistically.

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“I get very inspired by films, and I am kind of manic about them”

You are moving towards the field of the moving image, what can you tell me about that?

It was always on the plan for me to create video work. I get very inspired by films, and I am kind of manic about them. I got my first camera that records video as well recently. The movement with the camera is different and exciting; there are technical aspects that you need to get involved with. My method of filming is very similar with how I shoot photographs, its not about the fixed posing, I rather create two dots that I try to capture the movement in-between with the camera.

I am so lucky that I have been a photographer for years, and that helps me a lot in the film making process. I can think in terms of the moving image.

Requiem trailer – Directed by: Sigríður Soffía / Marino Thorlacius

I saw a short film trailer that came out the other day, which you shot. How did this collaboration come about?

Me and Sigga Soffía, dancer, met in Paris a year ago or something. I had been observant of contemporary dance prior, and I thought the format was very interesting. These elements of floating, non-speaking elements, and the fact that you can express the feeling that you want to portray through the moving image sold me this idea of producing a dance film.

We started out filming, and we ended up using a lot of the test that we shot. When you have a stage, the audience is always looking from one direction and the dancers need to turn and portray the movement. But when you are filming, you are floating with the dancer. We took a lot of one shots that is they had to choreograph one scene completely. This method was very sufficient for me to explore, for example when to approach the movement more closely.

I am also very excited about what musician Barði (Bang Gang) will add to the film; as for he is creating the sound world for the film.


Photographs: Marino Thorlacius

So, you are excited on working more with film?

Yes, and next projects will be worked on differently. But I am very fascinated by films, I can name a couple of titles, There will be blood and films made by Terrence Malick, Thin red line and Tree of life to name a few. Everything that is undisclosed in a way where directors allow themselves to do what they want.

Films like Biutiful, Babel and Children of men are titles that I am very drawn to, in the sense that they are very extravagant in using the visual medium as a tool for their artistry. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki is a great inspiration to me.

I am curious about Icelandic artists that have had impact on you in life, what can you tell me about that?

The Icelandic photographer RAX had extremely much influence on me in the beginning of my carrier whereas his work is about breaking the frame in an artistic way. Icelanders haven’t witnessed photography as an art form really, like the format is known abroad.

“I am looking at the world as a stage”

But personally I am more influenced by paintings, rather than photography like Dalhi and such painters. I am looking at the world as a stage, and that is what inspires me really.

Pétur Thomsen is one contemporary Icelandic photographer that I was really impressed by, one of his recent show Imported landscapes was amazing. I sometimes see elements that I have myself been trying out in other peoples work.

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What are your elements in photography?

Icelanders present Iceland like they want to do it, the focus is very much on tourism in that sense. But people that work in the travel industry they sometimes don’t think about other elements than sunshine and nature, about other things like tourists that live in big cities that never experience silence for example. These are experiences; I am not drawn to shoot in this postcard- like style.

Sometimes people tend to ask a lot about the locations, but the things that matters the most is how the weather was, you could be standing out on a field that suddenly turns in to an art piece in one second. The moments are what its all about. And they are also intangible to capture sometimes.

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Are you thinking about publish more books with your work, since you have one out?

My first book was a piece that I haven’t even flipped through since it was published. I want to work with a concept if I am going to do another one; I want to maybe do several books in a row. The book format is very exciting in a way, its something that lives on and has its charismatic’s.

If you produce series, you can allow yourself to choose photographs that are a part of the series and that is very interesting in it self. The book format has this holistic quality that we sometimes lose in our overloaded times.

The photograph changes in its element when it’s printed; this is the reason why photographers are always printing out tests and such. If I could choose, I would work with film. But it’s too expensive and is heavy in production. Sometimes the time frame doesn’t allow it either. The clients are used to choose from a large collection, so it isn’t a choice sometimes.


Pétur Ben musician – Photograph: Marino Thorlacius

We are looking forward to follow up on Marinó´s work in the future, both in photography and in filmmaking and wish him all the best in his visually intriguing future.

Interview: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photographs: Nanna Dís

VODUN – trying to grasp the ungraspable

‘VODUN – trying to grasp the ungraspable’
Reportage by Frederic Vanwalleghem

The town of Ouidah – Benin is the spiritual capital of Vodun in West Africa. Vodun is their national religion. Presently there are an estimated 50 million worshippers worldwide. An important aspect of the religion is spirit possession, through which the spirits speak to the devotees only for a short time during the ceremonies. This trance mechanism is a way to heal and get advice about daily matters. From a western point of view, Vodun is seen as mystique religion often associated with black magic, giving way to much misunderstanding.

I lived with the ‘Hounongan Zanzan Zinho Kledjé’ family who adheres the Gambada fetish or the serpent spirit, the basis of the well-known Damballah cult in Haïti. In Vodun and related African diasporic traditions a primordial way to obtain a spiritual experience is by being possessed by the Iwa or spirit. Through spirit possession the devotee and cult spirit become one. The members seem to immerse themselves in a hypnotic trance until one of the spirits starts to inhabit a body. Especially during possession, the identity of the spirit is clearly discernible. A silent and quiet person may become flamboyant and dramatic, dancing with grand gestures.

I was fortunate to encounter and document this intense experience. During a ceremony I witnessed the individual trance of two devotees. The numerous uncontrollable muscle spasms, vocalizations and peculiar eye gazes showed me this was an unfeigned event.

Link to the complete essay :

Frederic Vanwalleghem, photographer/visual artist, who is from Belgium
also shot these two beautiful photo essays in Iceland, be sure to check them out:

Verid thid blessadir Islendingar
Making space

living the country life

Lovely country life, captured by Snoop-Around crew.

#1,2 :Helluland in Aðaldalur
#3 :Heiði in Mývatssveit

film: Nanna Dís