FOTOGRAFIA: Mark Rubenstein – di Emma Coccioli per Milano Arte Expo

Mark Rubenstein

Mark Rubenstein

FOTOGRAFIA: Mark Rubenstein – intervista di Emma Coccioli per Milano Arte Expo.

Mark Rubenstein è un fotografo di Los Angeles di cui trovo affascinante la rappresentazione delle nuvole, della nebbia o foschia, da cui emergono giovani figure. Influenzato dal cinema come dalla moda, il suo lavoro è caratteristico e le atmosfere surreali, un po’ aliene, talvolta fanno pensare al lavoro di Gregory Crewdson. Tra i registi ammira specialmente Terrence Malick, Katsuhiro Otomo e Terry Gilliam, mentre nell’uso del colore dice di avere preso spunto da artisti quali Mike Kelley, Jeff Wall e Ron Mueck.


Your beautiful photographs of skies, often cloudy, remind me a bit of the photography of Wim Wenders. Which artists do you feel closest to in representations of the sky ?



Wenders’ depictions of America are quite an inspiration to me. I use the sky in my work to represent an opening to another world, a place for passage. I don’t necessarily know off hand if I could describe other artists that use the sky in a similar matter. Maybe Bill Henson or Todd Hido – they both create a world of dreams and isolation in their work. The sky and clouds are a dominant theme in my work as I am a child of the 80’s. For me as a child watching movies such as The Neverending Story or The Explorers was a huge influence on me. They both use very powerful imagery of children flying through the clouds embarking on a journey. This is another dominant theme in my work as these charachters that I photograph are all on journey themselves in the fabricated world of subconscious that I have created.

Is it respect for the sense of solitude that I denote in your work? Is it something that you feel intimately or just a depiction, a representation? What photographers, film directors or artists do you feel best convey this theme?

Solitude is something that I feel very intimately in myself and that I choose to convey in my work. My work is a physical representation of my mental state as well as of the people I work with. The people that I work closely with have the same questions as me: “What is life, what is enlightenment, what is progression of self?“. When we work on an image together, I feel that a very unique moment is created. Cinema is probably the greatest influence on my work. Directors that I admire and who I think explore similar themes are Terrence Malick, Katsuhiro Otomo and Terry Gilliam. My photoshoots are very much like a film set. On certain images I use film lighting and crews and other times I use natural light. But, beyond this, at the base of every image, I direct my characters into a reality and a construction we build together; a story and a time in space. I work very closely with the people that I photograph. Lately for my work I have been using established actors in my scenes, this has helped to highten the image and really has allowed the emotion in my imagery to grow.

What do you feel cinema should portray or tell about today? Are there stories or subjects that you feel have a priority or are more urgent?



I feel cinema today should focus on the idea of self and the future to come. The ability to build worlds and stories with a message, directed at a broad audience, is the most brilliant thing about cinema. You can really make an impact on a single person with a story. You can influence them into creating and expanding ideas. The progression of self is the heart of my work: to grow, to learn, to develop. I think the stories to come should help inspire people to do this. I don’t feel there is priority for a subject or story to be seen. I think films should come out organically and when the story is right a director should release to a broad audience.

Have you considered film directing? If so, do you have some idea that you would like to develop?

I have considered directing and it is the next move I am working to achieve. Most of my friends in Los Angeles are directors and cinematographers and being around them is pushing me more than ever to go down this path. I feel like I have achieved many goals with my photography. So I am ready to progress and move to a new step artistically. I have been working on a science fiction story for many years and in the coming year I hope to develop this into a short film. For me going to the moving image and allowing an energy that I feel has been gestating within my work, to be unleashed is truly exciting.

What do you personally associate to the color blue? Is it, for instance, the blue of blues music which would mean “to have the blue devils” meaning to be sad or suffering or melancholic?

I associate blue with a very unique mood and physical state. I have used blue tones in most of my recent work. It creates a blanket of emotion for me that is very melancholic. I really enjoy these moments with the charachters that I photograph. It could be a quiet moment, the early moments of dawn, or a very violent and emotive moment in the late hours of night.

I especially like the work of Yves Klein in this sense. What do you think of this great artist?

Klein is a interesting artist. The idea of using color to convey a physical sense is fantastic. I am more inspired most by artists like Mike Kelley, Jeff Wall or Ron Mueck. The worlds created in their work help to push me towards the future.

Are there artists whose sense and usage of color you particularly admire?

Mark Rubenstein

Mark Rubenstein, sky

Yes, I very much enjoy the work of Janusz Kaminski and Makoto Shinkai. Their use of color and tone has really helped to shape my vision of photography.

Can you tell us the story of the photograph of the girl holding the rabbit? When was it snapped? Who is the girl?

The image was created a few years ago, and I feel like it is one of the best visions that I have ever created. I became obssessed with the use of animals and humans together, and the idea of progression from adolescence into adulthood. The images of these humans with animals in an altered reality is almost like a totem of their lives. I worked when I was younger with the photographer Simen Johan. He has moved into using only animals as his subject in very surreal worlds, I think working with him and these animals was a subconscious influcence on these certain images for me.

Is the rabbit a figure that evokes tenderness?

The rabbit was a vessel I used to amplify this deeply pyschological moment I made with this girl.

What story do you envision behind this mysterious picture? Does this photograph, in particular, have a more narrative nature than the others?

The story I envision with this picture is someone travelling through time and space. Trasgressing through themselves into a future self and space. The photograph is more of a psychological narrative. But I love the idea of someone creating their own story within this space. Imagination and the possibility of imagination is what I hope to bring with my images.

The blue forest you photographed is very suggestive. In the Taoist religion it is believed that the most natural sanctuary is a forest and in the sacred texts of the confucianists the forest is always the place where temples are or should be erected. Confucious taught that the forest is the place from which man can rise towards divinity and the place priviledged by the gods themselves. For Jung the forest itself can evoke the contents of the individual’s subconscious world. It could, however, forebode fear and anguish in the human mind since man could fear the revelation of the secrets which might emerge from the depths of his own subconsciousness. The forest recalls the concept of the labyrinth because of the interlacing of its branches and the twistings of its underbrush. Because of its mysteriousness, its strangeness and its seeming so bizarre. The light that filters nebulously through its branches has both a cathartic and an apotropaic effect: it is hope, the mirage of a sure “topos” which attains illumination and knowledge. I would like to ask you which forests you have visited that most impressed themselves in your memory. Do you have poems regarding the forest or films or artists who gave inspiration to your idea of the forest itself and promoted your respect of it ?

The forest is the ultimate escape and place of wonder. It is a testament of everlasting time and growth and the perfect space to capture the concepts of my work. I have been to many forests but one that has directly influcenced me was the woods surronding Mt. Fuji in Japan. I felt as if I were lost in a jungle there. It was a place full of wonder. I climbed the mountain many years ago, and the woods surrounding the mountain were majestic and had so many stories. It was overlwheming to me. Climbing the mountain I felt as if I was on this journey, progressing myself and reaching a new goal. In the future there are many scenes I want to create in the landscape of these woods.

In your opinion what artists have faced the theme of light best and why?

Caravaggio. He is a classic in this sense and I feel most artists will agree that his work is the standard for how we can paint and create with light.

Can you tell us something about the social scene that you represent? What real stories inspire you?

There is a fantastic group of artists and filmmakers in Los Angeles right now. I am lucky to be a part of a wonderful next generation of creative talents. I have lived a very turbulent life and to be able to share my stories with my fellow friends and be pushed to create work is a real gift. The stories that inspire me are the stories of the human spirit and soul, what we all endure indivually on the path of what we call life.

Mark Rubenstein

Mark Rubenstein

Intervista di Emma CoccioliMark Rubenstein 

per Milano Arte Expo

Leggi anche le altre interviste di Emma Coccioli per il magazine.

MAE Milano Arte Expo 2015 – – ringrazia Emma Coccioli per l’intervista al fotografo Mark Rubenstein e per la selezione delle fotografie.

Milano Arte Expo

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