5Q2 - Mariya Kozhanova

In our format 5 questions to (5Q2), we talk to the artists of our Instagram takeovers about the work they show, their influences and upcoming plans.

In April 2021 we talked to Berlin-based photographer Mariya Kozhanova.


Photographer Mariya Kozhanova, born 1986 in Kaliningrad, lives and works in Berlin. She works with themes of human identification and has been fascinated by the powerful need of humans to believe in, and to seek for, something that lies beyond the ordinary.



Fototreff: Did you encounter a special challenge while working on the project you’re showing?

Mariya Kozhanova: It is always challenging to work with a topic that is very close to your heart. Kaliningrad is my hometown. The place that for many years has been my only source of inspiration, as it is offering a large variety of topics to discover. But by being part of this “story” myself, it made it harder to keep distance and impartiality to the topic. Being a “guest” who knows all the back-doors and secret chambers, was my challenge. I started to photograph this series in 2014 but it became possible for me to finalize the work only when I moved out of the region and realized the path of “transition” years later.

Fototreff: Is there a photographer or artist who influenced you in a particular way?

Mariya Kozhanova: I would say that the strongest impact on me had not concrete photographer but more a whole world of cinematography. From there I learned everything about composition, light, and most important: time. I learned how to make the right “cut” and how to tell a story as I am seeing my photographs more as stills from the movie called “Life”.

Fototreff: Which (photo) book should everybody own (or you would like to have)?

Mariya Kozhanova: I think a universal answer could not exist. It definitely should be the book that will not collect dust on your shelf and that will inspire you, to which one you will come back over and over again. For me, books of Rinko Kawauchi. I have a few of them. Lately, I especially like to dive into her contact-sheets published by Kominek Books. And another of my favourites are Masao Yamamoto’s books, especially his earlier ones when the process of “looking through” becomes an art practice itself.

Fototreff: Can you recommend an exhibition we should go and see right away?

Mariya Kozhanova: Oh, it is hard to say as the months under pandemic changed the focus of my attention and I would rather travel right away somewhere far with my camera in the backpack to experience life, see people that I miss, touch the sea or see the sunrise over the mountain peak.

Fototreff: Have you started working on a new project? Any beans to spill?

Mariya Kozhanova: I am working on several projects at once. I prefer long term projects, so some of them I started almost 10 years ago and they grow and get shape and depth with time. In the last year, I started to experiment with different media and my newest work “Inner Blindness”, that refers to the inner and outer ways of seeing consists of photographic works, embossed paper prints and wire sculptures.

Thank you very much for this short interview and your takeover.

See this and other takeovers on the FOTOTREFF Berlin Instagram channel: