Im Gespräch mit Marlen Wagner

In her photographic art, Marlen Wagner finds a way to combine her passion for dance and her fascination for movement swings and lines.

What is the difference for you between photo art and holiday snapshots?

“It might be that you find something really great through a snapshot – that’s coincidence. With my photo art, the medium or the material is also often coincidence. Because when I photograph dancers, I mostly choose the option of ‘serial photography’, which means I sometimes take 400 photos or more in an hour – and then I select. If something in a photo appeals to me, I then want to trace it further and work out what is special about it. But I wouldn’t edit snapshots from a holiday like that; I might straighten the horizon or brighten it up a bit.”

Do you have an immediate idea in your head of how you might photo-edit your shots afterwards when you take them?

“It happens very rarely that I have an idea in my head right away. I just see, I watch, I take photos. And that’s why it can happen that my photographs sometimes remain in the drawer for a year or two. I look at them again and again. At some point it “clicks” in my head and I know what these photos are telling me and I then work out this trait. I also have photos from five years ago that haven’t spoken at all. They still don’t say anything except, ‘We look quite pretty’ – and I don’t think that’s enough.”

Your photographs focus on movement and dance. How do you go about your specific choice of subject? Do you find the subject or does it find you?

“It varies. When I’m out and about and something comes across me and it says: Hello, here I am,’ then the motif finds me. But it can also be that I go out specifically when I read about a dance event that is taking place in a public space. Then I watch what happens. But it has also been the case that I have watched and not even taken out my camera because the event in no way corresponded to my feeling for movement form and dance. For example, when a dance is too predictable.

If you had only one word or phrase to describe your photographic work – what would that word or phrase be?

“If it is limited to dance photography only: in motion.”

Anne Wonneb, Berlin 2014