Marianna Rothen‘s photographs are sexy, cinematic and imbued with a darkness, a pervading shadow that suggests all is not well in her fantasy, that the carefree, strong women in her pictures are hiding a secret, their lives far more complex than they suggest.
This desire to wallow in nostalgia, in an aesthetic that harks back to the 1960’s and 70’s with its warm soft hues, gives Rothen the space to explore femininity and sexuality, to tantalise us with unknown narratives, the opportunity to pull us into an innocent world of frustrated women on the edge of liberation, who want to be free of the constraints of their society, who want to leave behind the clothes of their domesticity and claim what is rightfully theirs.
Using high grain paper to give a blurry cinematic quality to her photographs Rothen sucks us into an untamed wilderness; overgrown, dilapidated scenarios in which her models wear wigs, heavy make-up and vintage glasses, are naked, confident and sexy, are aware of their power and are not afraid to use it, their dreams encapsulated by their very physicality. The reality of their lives stripped away and left aside while they play in an enchanted world. We do not know of their past. Nor of their future. Rothen only gives us a glimpse. A film still from a larger narrative The actors emulating the film stars of yesteryear such as Faye Dunaway, Claudia Cardinale, Catherine Deneuve, Monica Vitti, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren and Lauren Bacall. Here’s what she has to say about her work:
All of my inspiration comes from the films, mostly from the ’50s and ’60s and ’70s and the celebration of women. Women of that time period were glorious and amazing. My work is definitely a major celebration of femininity, women, sensual and sexy…[they’re] also really happy but [have] something else cooking underneath. It’s not just a pretty face in my images.