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The freedom of the mountains, the expanse of the sea: after the end of the first lockdown last summer, the photographer was out and about in remote areas of the Dolomites and on the beach of Lido di Venezia, taking portraits of the people she happened to meet on her hikes.

LFI: What was the initial impulse for your new series?
Alisa Martynova: At the moment when the restrictions started to ease, I didn't have the urge to find myself in the middle of a party or any socially involved occasion. On the contrary, I often felt uneasy and overly cautious surrounded by people. The end of confinement, however, drove me outside for the fresh air and new horizons. My new horizons turned out to be Lido and the Dolomites, where I knew I could feel myself in the wild, open spaces. These places basically gave me the idea, I saw the reflection of my thoughts in them, seeing quite a lot of people travelling on their own or in small groups.

Did you meet the portrayed people by chance on your hikes?
Yes, all the people I photographed were complete strangers. Approaching them came as a sort of a remedy for my sudden antisocial behaviour.

How were the reactions?
It was a beautiful and surprising thing, but everyone appeared to be amiable and happy to be portrayed. I could never take for granted an acceptance of a person to be portrayed, it always involves a moment of embarrassment; but interestingly, on my hikes I noticed that people often felt special about being in a picture. Restoring the human connections after a long lonely period might have played its role in it.

Being alone is a universal experience of recent times - did you try to find images for this?
I can't say that I was looking for any kind of images; it has been a purely intuitive project. For me, it was almost an experiment when I decided to take a break from long researches, and simply see what would happen if I took the camera with me everywhere I went. As for being alone, I'm close to believing that nature hardly ever makes you feel on your own. Getting lost in the spaces and sounds, unwinding, reconnecting to the present moment, you can’t really keep your head in the clouds while hiking on the edge of a cliff. There are thousands of things happening that need your attention; the forests, mountains and rivers wrap themselves around you like a wool blanket.

What role does the landscape and nature play for you? Is it a place of escape, a recreational space, a balance?
I guess it's all three. I'm writing the answers to these questions on the terrace of a tiny countryside house immersed in the woods of Tuscany. It is almost night time and I can hear all the various noises around me: the cicadas, birds, the squeaking of the house’s roof, animals moving leaves and branches. I personally find it relaxing, recharging and helping me to focus at the same time. My greatest wish is for people to restore being in touch with nature and to carefully rethink their relationship with it. (Interview: Ulrich Rüter)

All pictures on this page © Alisa Martynova
Equipment: Leica SL with Apo-Summicron-SL 35 f/2 Asph.

We presented her Nowhere Near series in the LFI blog and the LFI magazine 2/2021.
© Francesco Levy

Alisa Martynova

...was born in 1994, in Orenburg, Russia. After finishing her studies of Foreign Philology in Russia, she graduated from a photography program at the Fondazione Studio Marangoni in Florence, Italy, in 2019. Martynova is a member of the Parallelo Zero Photography Agency; she lives and works in Florence.

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