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An Interview with Marina Fini

Updated: Apr 15, 2019

Marina Fini’s work is so abound with visual marvels that it’s almost too easy to ignore the equally-as-important deeper meaning behind it, but it becomes even more beautiful when you realize the thought and intent that went into creating it, and the inclusive philosophy that was its motivation. Employing a variety of mediums to achieve the desired effect (including photography, stagecraft, film, conceptual art, and jewelry), Marina believes in the healing power of color.

She’s so committed to this cause that she transformed her house into a semi-permanent art installation she calls Rainbow Bath House. It’s become an event space, a set for music videos, but above all, a place to heal. Though I haven’t been able to visit the Rainbow Bath House myself (it’s definitely become a bucket list item now), it gives me comfort to even imagine such a place. The passion Marina has for her work is so palpable that it is sanative even from afar. I feel cleansed and reinvigorated by the otherworldly shapes, the dappled rainbow light, by the general, deep ebullience of her photos. I could stare at them for hours, trying to siphon out every last drop of radiance in hopes of recapturing this feeling of euphoria somehow in the dullness of my everyday life. Her work is profound in the unadulterated happiness it inspires. It’s all encompassing, and no one is excluded.

Who are your inspirations?

I would say my biggest inspiration is probably nature. Also, a lot of different time periods, like I love mythology, anything that's ancient mythology. I love Maya Deren, she was one of the first female surrealist filmmakers. She was a dancer and filmmaker, and did a lot of self-portraiture with film. I fell in love with her when I was in film school. Painter-wise, I love Leonor Fini. We might be related because we have the same last name. She's a surrealist painter from Argentina that wasn't well-known until recently, but her paintings are extremely inspirational. I love Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Missy Elliott.

What work are you most proud of?

Definitely the larger-scale projects that involve a lot of people. My shows for sure, and I did a music video last year with a rapper named Nitty Scott, which involved so many people, with sets, hair, and makeup. It took a lot to prepare for it.

Who are your favorite subjects to shoot?

Probably people who are themselves and have a diverse outlook onto the world. I really like to photograph people of all identities, shapes, sizes, abilities... I like having a diverse range of subjects. I don't really shoot models who are models, y'know? Like I shoot people who I'm inspired by. People that don't give a fuck. I love photographing people who have their own style and don't follow trends. I love shooting and collaborating with musicians and other performers. It really ranges. It doesn't matter what they look like. I shoot people of all ages too. I like defying ageism through photography.

What was the process of starting Rainbow Bath House?

At the beginning of 2017, I moved out of my studio apartment in LA. I was constantly traveling. I did the most shows ever in my life during that time. I saved bunch of money, and decided to go to Joshua Tree. I found the house and I started renting it about a year ago. I spent about 4 months transforming the house into what it is now. I created that space to essentially be my studio but also to be a community-oriented space to create in, to dance in, to be a happy place for me and my friends that other people enjoy. Most of my work has been extremely temporary, and I like the idea of a place that will hopefully eventually be a permanent art installation.

Now I'm hopefully renewing the lease for living in the house, because my landlord was putting it up for sale at the beginning of October and then I spent November trying to fund-raise to save it, and in December, he decided he's not going to sell it. It's been a tumultuous battle, kind of. I would ultimately love to own the property so I don't have anyone influencing decisions. Because I don't own it, it's definitely not as full-throttle as it could be.

Regardless, it's been a beautiful space to heal people with color and to have something up for longer than anything else I've done. It's been a special project to bring a new chapter to the work that I'm doing, healing light and color therapy. It's been emotional. It's my baby. A lot of people have come through to see the rainbows. It's called that because you're supposed to be bathing in rainbows, day or night. I want to expand more into that concept. I'd love to have structures around the world. It can create so much joy and healing.

How do you come up with designs for your jewelry?

Honestly, just things that I like, butterflies, flowers, nostalgic shapes that have always been a part of me. I love sacred symbolism and Celtic and Pagan symbols are important to me. I do moons and flowers and suns and fruits. It's really all based off of things that are cute from reality that translate into wearable shapes. I'm working on a new collection that's all astrology. It's based off of nostalgia and nature, basically.

How has your style in terms of photography changed over the years?

I definitely know how to utilize light and shift light in ways I didn't know before. I'm an unconventional photographer, so I don't use typical equipment to capture. I use source lighting, which basically means light that is found in the house, like neon, or putting in LEDs, or little nightlights. I don't use typical professional lighting equipment in my work. I definitely have in the past, and I know how to use that equipment, but I really love bending light in camera and being able to color light and working with natural light. I love shifting and refracting natural light with objects, prisms and flasks. I feel like I've always done things it that realm, even when I started doing fashion photography when I was nineteen. But in the last 4-5 years, it's become a very prominent thing for me to work in black light, projections, and morphing reality. I feel more confident in my skill set now. I know how to manipulate things a lot quicker. I don't use Photoshop, so everything is done in camera. That's always been my objective with photography, creating images that look photoshopped or CGI but they're not. I love tricking people into thinking something's not real when it is. I really love being able to play with people's minds.

What's the biggest risk you've taken creatively?

I would say doing shows, in the beginning. Because when I first starting doing installation work, and I had to invest a lot of my own money into producing pieces, feeling confident it would pay off. Definitely the first two or three shows were all pretty much out-of-pocket, trusting that these shows would pay off in the long run. And they did. I ended up being hired by big companies to do temporary installations and interactive works. That risk was scary, but I was passionate about sharing what I create. It's a little less risky with photography and film, because you can film whatever, you can photograph whatever without too much financial risk, but when you're doing at installation, it's thousands of dollars. That aspect was pretty scary. I bought my own equipment, my own laser machine. I've been laser-cutting for seven years. That was a huge investment.

Images used in collage via @marinafini


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