“It can be uncomfortable yet at the same time beautiful to connect with strangers.”
With her signature ICON BOOTH installation, world-renowned Dubai-based photographer, visual artist, and creative director Marta Lamovsek, captures the exuberance of Middle Eastern street life in the Emirates. The Central Saint Martins – University of Arts London alumnae works with photography, art direction, installation, film, and college to celebrate the unrivaled grace of human vulnerability in UAE’s most diverse locales. Marta’s mantra: “It can be uncomfortable yet at the same time beautiful to connect with strangers.”
From her native Ljubljana to London’s high street, the self-taught Slovenian-born creative has worked with the world’s best creative professionals and visual artists for 20 years and has an extensive background in print publication. Her portfolio includes more than 80 titles in leading global media outlets, such as, VICE UK, British Vogue, i-D Magazine, Rolling Stone India, The Guardian UK, Le Monde France and Harper’s Bazaar Arabia & Harper’s Bazaar ART among them. Marta has also collaborated on iconic visual art for books and album covers, and among collaborations was Dame Vivienne Westwood, the doyenne of British fashion, so admired the ailurophobe’s work that she became a regular client.The 2010 UK’s 15 Most Talented Emerging Artist Award “Rising Star” nominee has also held installations at Art Dubai (Sikka Art Fair) 2017, 2018 and 2019, installation at Manarat Al Saadiyat in Abu Dhabi, and a solo exhibition Plastic Garden at Dubai
Design District’s 2017 Blue Cave Urban Festival. Her studio is currently in a Dubai cultural zone Alserkal Avenue.
No matter the subject, Marta’s deep-rooted passion for life, cultural diversity—and cats—seeks to masterfully weave the beauty of soul and mastery of craft into an entirely new space for urban contemporary art. One that makes everyone a superstar… an icon. While it’s impossible to count all the people that sat in front of Marta’s camera, we can fairly estimate that the IconBooth project in less than 3 years hosted over 1000 individuals from all walks of life and literally all parts of the globe: “My portraiture chair welcomes everyone”, says Marta. “I
had a privilege to capture the souls from gardeners, truck drivers, architects, soprano singers, maids, pilots to members of the royal family.”
It is needless to say that the expansion of the cultural horizon plays the key role in Marta’s work.
ICONBOOTH Project: A Transformational experience at its best
Launched in 2018, ICONBOOTH is a Marta Lamovsek original; ICONBOOTH is a Do-It-Yourself installation that masterfully balances art and photography with the artisanal style and culture of the MENA and other global cultures; it is the only installation in the world that
captures the dynamic reverence for culture through portraits, and as Marta herself puts it, “ICONBOOTH is a celebration of cultural diversity and equality—irrespective of race, class, nationality, or gender. We. Are. All. One.”
In a written interview with the Port Washington Public Library Lamovsek discusses what inspires her artistic work.
PWPL: How did your personal journey with photography begin?
ML: I grew up in Yugoslavia, at the time of my early childhood freedom of expression was not something I would remember being highly encouraged. There was a lot of “shhhh” hearing back then. My childhood was not filled with lots of artistry moments, we lived by the forest and river and there was not much going on, except of watching birds, playing with cats and fishing with my dad. My parents were keen amateur photographers yet at the time I wasn’t interested in picking up the camera at all. Then, one day in my early 20s it happened: I was sitting in a coffee place with a friend and we had a discussion about artistic practices. I suddenly (during the chat) noticed a photograph on the wall – and I had an epiphany! I KNEW that moment that this was my inner guiding voice saying – photography is what you need to do. I got my first camera a week after, I was 22 years old and since then I never for a second had a doubt that I had found my true purpose.
PWPL: What does photography mean to you? or What does it mean to you being a female in your industry?
ML: Personally I believe it has a lot to do with my interest to understand the deep complexity of humanity. Portrait and fashion photography gives you access to get pretty personal with people. I believe every single person can teach us something about the world and about ourselves. I mean it when I say : Every. Single. Person. I think my never ceased passion for my craft is more attributed to my obsession with exploring the human condition and people’s psyche than it has to do with anything else. Being a female maybe means I am tapping more into the intuitive side of work. My photography has throughout years evolved from fashion photography to artistic “higher self portraits” because
I have followed my heart and intuition. Personally I was feeling called to advocate for the underprivileged, to subvert gender norms and it’s important to me that my work really is inclusive of everyone no matter of nationality, economical situation, race, sexuality, etc. We are
all one. No matter how glossy and shiny the fashion photography can be, to me it is essential to be truly authentic and true to myself, and I don’t care about brands so much as about the ethics of the people behind them.
PWPL: In your opinion, what makes a compelling photograph?
ML: When you truly resonate with the image, or when you feel your heart opened.
PWPL: Do you find shooting with natural light more interesting than with artificial light or vice versa?
ML: All I can say is that I love both, there is magic to do with both, depending on your “mood board” and intention.
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