Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Conversation with Tiana Markova-Gold

This interview was first published on this blog on February 19, 2009.
With Nymphoto's Art for Haiti online benefit auction to begin next week, we decided to re-publish this interview with Tiana Markova-Gold, one of the artists participating in the auction and who has worked in Haiti.

The first image by Tiana Markova-Gold I ever saw was from her Haiti series. And I was mesmerized. Without the caption I knew this was Haiti and I was captivated by this depiction of a country much overlooked & the poetic style of photography that brought paintings of Gauguin to mind.
Like in the work of Juliana Beasely, one can feel the empathy and respect Tiana has for her subjects.

© Tiana Markova-Gold

Nymphoto: Tell us a little about yourself.

Tiana Markova-Gold: I live in Brooklyn with my boyfriend, in a neighbourhood that I really love, but that’s changing a lot as it gets more and more gentrified. I’ve lived there longer than anywhere else in my life, but I’ve also lived in Vermont, in San Francisco and Oakland and briefly in the Caribbean. I’ve traveled a lot….I’ve spent time in Central America, South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Africa, Europe… My life has been full of many adventures, a lot of struggle and a lot of incredible experiences.

© Tiana Markova-Gold

NP: How did you discover photography?

TMG: I was always interested in photography, as far back as I can remember…my mother was always taking photographs and when I was a small child she made super 8 films. I took some photography classes when I was a teenager, but I was a dancer so I didn’t really think about pursuing photography in a serious way…it wasn’t until a few years after I stopped dancing that I started to focus on photography. I was traveling a lot and taking photographs, just snapshots for myself….a woman I knew was an editorial intern at a magazine and when she saw some pictures I had taken on one of my recent trips she asked if she could bring them in to show the picture editors at the magazine. It was the first time I had considered that photography might be something I could do professionally.

© Tiana Markova-Gold

NP: Where do you find inspiration?

TMG: I think a lot of my work is, at least on some level, inspired by a need to understand or make sense of things I struggle with in my own life. It’s like I’m making a map to help me find my way through the world, through the web of experiences and relationships that is my life, and in doing that, maybe help illuminate the way for somebody else.

I am also deeply inspired by the innate beauty in the human spirit. I want to recognize and acknowledge that spirit, especially in situations where it is not always so obvious…as Karim Ainous said (when speaking about a film he co-wrote), “It is about a faith in the human being, no matter what. When he is an outlaw, when he is stealing, when he is making love.”

Sometimes I am inspired by my anger or frustration with things I see happening…I take photographs to try to make people look at what is going on; to expose things people are not aware of or not paying attention to.

I’m also just very curious about the world and the people living in it….

© Tiana Markova-Gold

NP: How do your projects come about?

TMG: I began the sex workers project while I was in the full-time photojournalism program at ICP. I had to do a lot of footwork before I was able to actually begin taking pictures. I did a lot of research and contacted many people and organizations providing services to sex workers in New York City. I also spent a lot of time in neighbourhoods that were known for street prostitution. The first woman I photographed in Hunts Point was someone I just walked up to on the street one evening and started talking to.

© Tiana Markova-Gold

NP: What's next?

TMG: In January I’ll be in Asia for three weeks on a photography fellowship from the Johnson & Johnson Foundation.

I’ve just begun working on a new project about women and violence….Initially I’m focusing on women fighters…I don’t want to say much more because it’s just beginning and I’m not sure yet exactly where it will go.

NP: Thank you so much!

Please visit to see more of Tiana's work.

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