There is an excitement right when you know you have been given an assignment to be creative and create a series of images on a music piece. I love music like so many other people. And I have my own history and personal approach toward it. I remember from my early childhood music was part of our lives at home. There was not that much of pop music, though. It was more of the Iranian traditional music or classical music. Later on, because of my older brother we started to listen to rock music. Then it was Pink Floyd, Beatles, Queen, Metallica and so on. No matter how much I adored hard rock or progressive rock music in my life, Classical music has always had its special place deep inside my soul. I remember as a kid, I used to listen to Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana over and over again and make stories about it. I would listen to Beethoven and think of the moonlight and the passion in his heart. Even with other types of music, I have maintained my habit to visualize them. So when we got the assignment, I wanted to contribute to the genre of music that has my utmost respect, the classical music.
Now the question was which of the classical pieces I should work on. It did not take me long to come to the conclusion that I am going to work on F. Schubert String Quartet No. 14 in D minor known as “Death and the maiden”. I remember the first time I heard this piece I felt as if I am possessed by this piece. I listened to it so many times. In fact, I wrote a short story while listening to it. So I thought, maybe it’s time to go back to it and make a visual story about it as well. I believe this was a good choice for me because of the parameters of the assignment. We were supposed to work in nature, have wide-angle images and macro images. I’m not a big fan of nature photography unless it is something beyond its reality and this is where Schubert is amazing about it. After all, we should recall that Schubert was very impressed by nature same as so many artists who belonged to the romantic era.
Death and the maiden is a very dark and challenging work. It is death that seeks the maiden and asks her to be with him. The maiden, on the other hand, struggles to get away from death. I decided to have my work take place fully in nature. I also chose my model to be someone who has a very specific look. I wanted to work with a model who is not fat yet not very slim. The reason was that I wanted to make my images have a sense of the artworks made back then. I wanted her to be posed in a way that gives an impression of a sculpture rather than a human being. And since I know the way women were pictured back then was nothing like the way we do today, I asked a friend of mine to model for me who has the body form of women in old paintings and sculptures. As I said, I asked my model to pose for several scenarios. I wanted her to pose as if she is being vulnerable, pure, frightened, dead and defeated. I chose black and white photography because I wanted it to have this nightmarish feeling. Also, I wanted to challenge myself working with a film camera. I also used an infrared camera to bring in the element of surrealistic mood. In the end, after being soaked in the rain and my model wearing only a piece of fabric, we ended up with two rolls of 120 film and a few infrared photos. I believe we could do more if the weather condition was not making it hard to move on but thanks to my model that went far and beyond her way to make it work. I am happy with the end result and I think I got the motion right.