As a child, I used to know people’s lives through the atmosphere of their houses when I visited them with my parents. There was never a mystery on the surface of things but instead on the underneath, and that became obvious to me. It’s the visibility of the invisible.
You know, any person you see walking down the street has a complexity of motives inside, not practical but metaphysical. You can sense metaphysics if you put yourself in the position of the observer. You become an unextended dot (in a Wittgenstein sense) with no consequences but only with conclusions. You start to understand everything, like people in cinema seats. You watch the movie of life.
Interiors have this peculiar way of speaking silence to me – and you really can hear it. I’m very sensitive to furniture, window angles and walls. For some peculiar reason, my attraction to them is like when children speak naturally to strangers. I used to love to speak to strangers. Every shadow in a wall draws not only lines but little hummings as a presence-voice, and that has to be captured by a camera or something else. It asks for it. All this has a very familiar sound to me – it matches the sounds of my childhood.
I remember hearing the humming of my great-grandmother praying in the dark blue corner of her bedroom; the iron bed gave the image a suspended-in-air appearance in the half-light; and her rosary, a long black vertical rosary shining like a pendulum, had a quiet voice. I kept myself staring at the door as a sudden beauty kept me still and alive.
This was a beginning of an everything. The beginning of an image. Because of this, I only create indoors images. The lack of models in my images is because it’s too personal and the lack of a face is because it’s not that personal. I only want to unveil universal feelings. We all have them, we all have the same metaphysical origin.
Once a disloyal friend said to me that I would never be original in photography. I was very surprised for her saying that because my intention was not to be “original” (it’s a complex word, I’m using it in a more common way). However, that comment did make me understand better what I was doing with images. It gave me a step ahead in my self-perception and now I know what to say: all I want is to represent the humanity I have inside of me the best I can. And that’s not new, you read about it in books, you learn about it in college, you see it in art museums, you see it live in people walking down the streets… What is important is understanding it. Of course, you can express it in a way that looks different to other artists but that’s a whole different subject that I’m not going to go into here. Baudelaire explains that very well in his book “The Painter of Modern Life”.
We all have the same universal contents inside of us, but in different measures, with different expressions. I express what we tend to forget. I focus on the origin of the images and not so much on the medium. Mediums are a posteriori experiences and a different subject. They’re related to the image indirectly not directly.
I’m not a photographer even though my father was a professional photographer – I’m not interested enough in the craft. Images to me are the result of complex moments where colours become voices, voices become colours, and then I understand it all. This understanding is what gives the image the conceptual meaning that hums underneath. I sometimes only write about my images – I’ve had some poetry published a few years ago. Sometimes words catch the colours better, but not always, and that’s when I grab a camera.
Sounds are quite important to me, and because of this, I listen to very few singers. Diamanda Galás, Jessye Norman and Elvira de Hidalgo grab so many colours with their voices. Also the work of Messiaen, who is one of my favourite composers ever – I love his work for Ondes Martenot and organ.
Indoors Monologues is a short conclusion of moments of understanding what is in front of me, moments in voice and colour, with life and death at once. I happened to use a camera in those moments; next time it might become prose or something else that can grasp its essence.
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Sofia Martins is also the lead singer for her band, named after her alias Starsha Lee: