+August 17, 2020
Having discovered her passion and talent for photography after managing commercial productions, Marta Kochanek is an award-winning photographic artist with a specialty in advertising photography and production. Training in the industry under Annie Lebovitz, Marta uses the lighting and language of advertising photography in her award-winning series Lov’yer to explore incredibly personal topics, the industry and the notion of love as a whole.
Lov’yer is a word borrowed from Middle English, used by the earliest English writers of the 8th century. The title entices thoughts of romance and love, but Marta describes the project as not just a mere celebration of loving and being loved - it is an in-depth exploration of the range of human experience in the 21st century. Mainly focusing on minorities and the very real stigma and challenges they face when they dare to love, the photographer draws on personal experience, months of research and years of experience in the photography industry to create the impactful photographs. Love should be a blessing to all, but often becomes criminal or dangerous for some.
Kochanek knows all too well the sting of rejection - from coming out as a lesbian, working as a female photographer in the advertising industry, to having to leave her home country of Poland because of the distinct lack of tolerance. Lov’yer was born from Marta’s need to explore themes of rejection, acceptance, love and lived experience. Formed over 8 months of the artists own time and research, Lov’yer is an ode to both personal and wider social experiences of love.
Lovers, cougars, sugar daddies, gigolos, adorers, secret admirers and cohabitants.
Lov’yer explores notions of love as a timeless foundation on which the world is built, in all it’s forms. We are all lovers, we are all loved and it is part of the human experience to love and be loved. However, there is a harsher reality which accompanies loving, founded on the artists life-long experience and research. Death and separation always follow love - “people love. People cheat. People judge. People are brutal. People search for attraction and attention, sex and lust, deep union and long-term partners.” Not just an ode to the many experiences of love, Lov’yer explores the lifecycle of fragile humanity and the transience of existence through the way we love and are loved. We all find ourselves as lovers just as certainly as we find death - the ultimate release of love.
The tone of the images reflects both the end of love and the multi-faceted experience of minority couples - the subjects desire for each other is expressed through the alluring and enticing lighting, but are similarly captured in darker, almost hidden rooms. The viewer intrudes upon a private moment and is forced to face the reality of all love, and their own approach to it. Although the title entices thoughts of romance and love, the tonality of the series is much more sombre, and less rose-tinted than an expected portrayal or celebration of love. Marta describes the influence of Nan Goldin on the project, and how it sought to be a more in-depth analysis of the human condition and approach to love. The tone and setting capture the reality for many minority groups, having to hide their true lives and loves under the cover of darkness and scandal.
Her [Kochanek’s] lens forever captures the timeless, anaesthetised and theatricalized human gestures of feeling. It is as if this immortalisation fights her fear of the lifecycle of fragile humanity and wider culture. In this, she references the photographic essays of Nan Goldin and the theatre of Krzysztof Warlikowski's, which see life as cyclical ritual, through which we are merely passengers.
There’s a heavy focus on contrast in the Lov’yer series, not just within the depths of the shadows or the skillfully placed highlights within the images. There’s a contrast within the subjects - gay and straight, Black and white, old and young. Contrast forms the basis of these forbidden loves but it all boils down to the final and ultimate contrast - love and death. Marta artfully expresses that death isn’t the anti-thesis of love, but an essential part of the experience.
The project is focused on minority groups and motivated by equality, founded on the artists experience as a minority photographer in the advertising industry. Kochanek’s is a unique, accurate and valuable voice, which shines through the series and imbues it with incredible personal value.
Woman, lesbian, photographer; I often say it is a triple trouble when it comes to life abroad as well as work in commercial / advertising photography industry.
With a background in advertising photography and production, Marta Kochanek and her keen attention to detail and dedication to the medium were recognised whilst training with Annie Leibovitz. Over the past decade, Marta has co-ordinated, directed and produced countless advertising campaigns throughout the United Kingdom and internationally. Having appeared in numerous publications, Kochanek has received multiple national and international awards for her works, including prestigious photographic awards such as the London Association of Photographers Awards, Px3 Paris, International Aperture Awards and International Photography Awards. Lov’yer is amongst the prize winning work of Kochanek, having been awarded first place for conceptual photography from the International Photographer of the Year Photography Awards. Marta was awarded with Art Grants in 2012, 2013 and 2014 to deliver photography projects and in 2012 and 2015 Marta was invited to exhibit during Daegu Biennial in South Korea. Similarly in 2016 her Cognitive Bodies series won her an entrance to Berlin Photo Biennale. She is a Visiting Lecturer in (BA) Photography at Birmingham City University.