We spoke to Marija Mandić about her evolution as a photographer, her love for self-publishing and Eastern European sensibility.
MAZIPOS – I’ve been following your work since the Flickr old days, where you already had a mature portfolio filled with sunny, intimate photos. Do you feel your work has changed much since then? Do you revisit your old works often?
MARIJA MANDIĆ – Sometimes I run into some of my old photos, and I can say that the difference between the older ones and some of the new ones is very visible. Sometimes I even feel nostalgic towards my older “style”. It’s like I had more freedom in taking photos, the whole approach was more frivolous and I think that is what makes the difference in my style nowadays.
M – In other interviews, you have said you don’t see yourself as a photographer, and even mentioned you received most of your cameras as gifts. I’m curious how that affects your creative process… do you approach to a subject/topic with the same discipline as a self-appointed photographer, or do you rather let improvisation lead your way?
MM – Improvisation is always the best part in any creative work or process, you never know where it will lead you. I really never saw myself as a photographer, maybe just because I wouldn’t love to be engaged only with one media.
M – I find this camera detachment really refreshing, and your images totally have that feeling of freedom! I know you also do drawing, textil, fashion… Is there anything you don’t feel comfortable working with?
MM – I really like to experiment with other media, and actually I don’t see myself stuck only in one. I think it always depends on your idea and goal which media is the best for realization.
M – On that note, you’ve been self-publishing fanzines and artist books recently… what are the reactions from the public and also, where can we buy them?
MM – I made my first fanzine in 2011, and since then I am in love with any kind of self-publish and DIY publications. It’s totally different when you have photographs gathered in a book or fanzine, comparing to watching them on the screen, especially if the book is bound by the author. People really liked what I made, especially the last book, which I have made last year. The whole book is hand made, and it contains 110 photographs, which were taken from 2009 to 2015. Unfortunately, none of the books are for sale at the moment, they are all sold out ☺.
M – I know you have made a couple of music videos. Do you plan to develop this further to, say, a feature film?
MM – Yeah, I made few music videos, but for me it was more as some kind of practice, I wanted to try and see if I can manage it. When it comes to movies, I am actually in the phase of development of a documentary movie. I am really enjoying working in this media, and I see this switch in my work as an overlap with photography.
M – Tell us about your experience living in Prague, how did you profit from such a creative city? What are the art-scene contrasts with your native Novi Sad?
MM – Prague was definitely a great inspiration for me. At some point I could see it as Novi Sad, but on a much smaller scale and with much more potential and opportunities. What really caught my eye, at least how I saw it, was the Eastern European sensibility and style among Czech artist, which somehow is similar, but at the same time totally different from Serbian style. My friends from LOKAL and me came to an idea to connect these two cities on a local level, so currently we are working on this plan, which hopefully will be realized until the end of this year.
M – Yeah, tell us more about the LOKAL project you’re running in Novi Sad…
MM – Two of my friends Mirko Zarkovic and Aleksandar Ramadanovic found this cozy, sweet place in one of the oldest part of Novi Sad, and started using it as a co-working space and space for different kinds of gatherings. After my return from Prague, I was looking for working space and that is how I got involved in the LOKAL project. We started series of exhibitions, and other activities, especially with young unestablished artists, and that is what we are planning to do in the future.