Martina Rooney – ‘Observations of American Life’

Martina Rooney

Martina Rooney

Martina Rooney is one of my tutors in Plymouth College of Art and it was interesting to attend her talk out side of College hours. I am used to have her as lecturer for Contextual studies so it was different and more open public.

” Martina grew up in Ireland, and much of her work has a strong sense of culture and identity. Her most recent project, ‘Observations of American Life’, is a documentary series of images exploring contemporary life in the USA. This project was inspired by Robert Frank’s book ‘The Americans’, published in the 1950s.” / /

First trip she did to America was for 5 weeks in 2009. She took with her different kind of cameras D2x (digital), Hasselblad XPan and Mamiya 67, mostly it was because she wasn’t quite sure about the format she wanted to produce her photographs. As she admitted that having too many formats wasn’t the right decision because she did a lot of experimentation with the formats and didn’t pay enough attention to the images themselves.

The second trip she did 12 moths latter was more successful then the trip she did in 2009. She went to America for longer period of time. Most of the locations she visited was thoroughly planned to record the changes of the time/government and the culture of American’s itself. Mainly she worked with Hasselblad Xpan as she decided after the first trip that this format works for her better then the others.

Her approach to the project was to be an outsider to produce the things of typical “American’s”. The gun culture, the religion, the story… As she said; I want the images to make people think if they have been taken now or long time ago. This was the first time I have seen her series of work and I think she has succeeded.

Her work bringing across beautiful landscapes of America and shows the “back stage” of the country….

I am looking forward to see the book she produces.


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