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    DAYS & PLACES

    Purple Haze

    Marilyn Mugot, captures a part of our world that some people are afraid of, some people hide from or even make bright. Mugot’s China At Night series takes place in Chongqing, China. One of the worlds most populated cities. But from midnight to morning, Mugot documents quiet places in a city she feels most comfortable in.
    Purple Haze
    Photography by Marilyn Mugot, Interview by Natalie Malheiro.

    NM: I’ve read that you're a fashion photographer and a graphic designer. When did you start urban photography and why?

    MM: I started urban photography from 2013/2014 in the USA. I had wanted to make a long journey to refocus, to rediscover me. I already had a strong interest in street photography. This is a style that I felt was true and pure photography. Juggle between the spontaneous and rapidity moment, to capture the right moment, the good light by only walking, this is an instinctive work that matches with me very well. Conversely, fashion photography leaves little room to the improbable, it's very directed.

    NM: What inspired you to take photo’s at night? Photographers usually avoid this time due to poor lighting.

    MM: During my trip to the USA several months ago, I became very interested in Bright Design through the works of James Turrell, James Clar and Carlo Bernardini. I wanted to orient myself towards a work of reflection, color and light mixing with photography. I had noticed that I was more sensitive to specific lights. There were passages of the day where I obtained the photographic rendering that I wanted. Little by little, this style confirmed.

    NM: Several photos from your China at night series have a cool tone. Did you purposefully accent this colour scheme for a reason? Or was this just because of the available neon light hues?

    MM: I have no pre-established direction that directs me. I like some specific colors so I think my post-production goes naturally to certain tones.

    NM: Because of the colour scheme and that there are almost no people in your series, it feels like you're creating another world or maybe a secret dimension of Chongqing. Was this your intention? If so, how do you envision this dimension?

    MM: I prefer that there is no direct mark. A silhouette in a landscape is a very easy direction of the human eye, from reading. I prefer to work a more graphic photography conditioned by mass, block and shapes work. And then, I want the spectator to feel alone in front of the immensity of the world. It is also the loss of oneself in an unknown environment that I want to project. I want all human traces to disappear so that a real immersion can be born through a new world.

    NM: You must have a great sense of direction to wander around at night. What draws you to these locations?

    MM: Chance attracts me. I like to lose myself deliberately in around.

    NM: I know when I spend time in the night, I feel slightly out of place or uneasy. Do you have these feelings, or do you feel comfortable with the night? What did you feel while shooting in  China?

    MM: I don't feel particularly uncomfortable at night, of course everything depends on where I am located. But I appreciate the atmosphere at night because I have impression of becoming invisible, forms are indistinct, rhythm is slow and calm, the streets are empty little by little. It gives way to exclusivity' sense. As the world belonged to you a little more.

    NM: Chongqing is said to be the most populated city in the world. What was your experience with the mass population and how did it compare to western cultures? Did you enjoy your time there?

    MM: Yes, that's exactly why the city attracted me a lot. I wanted visiting this city because I had impression it symbolized the galloping modernity of the country. I did not feel the oppression of the population any more in Chongqing than in Paris or New-York. This feeling of oppression is much more present in Paris,  space is more restricted and the population ceaselessly growing. The difficulty results more in a cultural adaptation.