Photo: © Magdalene Marx

Docu Interview: Magdalene Marx

Instagram: @abohemian

1. What’s your favorite drink?

I am a teetotaller now and have been for over a decade. But my favourite drink of all time, (the one I would choose on my death bed) would have to be a Bloody Mary. For me, that seemingly impossible juxtaposition of tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, vodka and Tabasco sauce ought to make it terrible but is instead, mind-blowingly spectacular. It just captures the essence of this weird, wild and wonderful human experience all in a highball glass.

2. Who are you?

I am a Fine Arts Photographer based in Australia. I am arrested by that singular narrative in any particular scene. Be it in the wilted petals of the extraordinary botanicals found in Australia or the ardent ferocity of climate change activists. I pare away the noise of the world to that essence of a moment in its raw ephemeral state. I work freelance on my fine arts photography but I also love using my work to champion the causes I support.

3. Let's travel back in time... How did you get started with photography?

I’ve always loved taking photos as a child. My Dad was a businessman but loved taking photos when he wasn’t working which wasn’t very often. He gave me my first camera, a Canon AE-1 when I was 12 which I still have. I loved that camera. But growing up, photography or anything arts-related was never an option as a career.
I grew up in an era where there was only one pathway. So, I was a good girl and did what my parents and society asked of me. I got good grades, went to university and became a lawyer. But on the cusp of turning 40, I had a breakdown. It was heartbreaking to see everything you had strived to build up your entire life just disintegrate.
I was called to examine where my source of security, safety and worth stemmed from or even if these values exist. Between finding a way to anchor me to this world and healing from all the suppressed trauma and grief, photography became a way for me to communicate with the world. That was 4 years ago and I still find struggle with depression. But, through my photography, I’ve found a way to articulate the intense overwhelm that encases me and let that little light that comes in through the shutter, shine into those dark corners within.

4. Tell about your project/photo essay?

In February 2021, Australia was rocked by the news of our Attorney-General, Christian Porter, implicated on charges of rape. In Australia, the Attorney-General is the minister responsible for Australia’s legal affairs, national and public security, including the carriage of legislation in the dealing of human rights matters.

What followed was an escalation of tension as evidence of a cover-up and more insidious and deeply entrenched culture of suppression of women’s rights was revealed within the highest office of the Australian government, leading right up to the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.

On the 15th March 2021, the tempest of rape allegations drove large crowds in Australia to gather in protest in a #March4Justice rally. All around Australia, people gathered in an outcry at the injustices and to show solidarity for the victims. In front of Brisbane’s City Hall, outraged by the response of the Prime Minister and the government, who continually denied, lied and downplayed the charges, crowds gathered to demand justice for women who had been abused and discriminated against. Fury and disgust were the overriding sentiments by an angry crowd who not only called for an official inquiry but for a government to lead the way to change a historically toxic culture of denigrating women.

9 months on, the police have since closed the allegations against Christian Porter. No inquiry to the allegations or charges was ever made on the case or the conduct of the Attorney-General.

The victim took her own life last year.

5. What is your advice for new young photographers?

Don’t let your fear of making mistakes and failing stop you from trying. Photography is not about perfection. It is about expression. There is so much noise in the world clouding our minds, colouring our tongue that makes it hard for us to express our true voice. The only way to overcome that is simply just to start. Clumsily, haltingly, tentatively… just start.

6. What is or has been your biggest struggle as a photographer?

The courage to do the work that moves me. It often feels too vulnerable, raw and tender when I find myself working on the projects that fuel me. Ironically the thing that energises you sometimes feels so overwhelming that it feels like it’ll break you. These are often subject lines that are close to my trauma and experiences. But I am learning to find the courage to trust that when I am triggered, it is precisely when the art is calling to me and you have to heed the call because therein lies your salvation too.

7. What is your opinion: who are currently the "thought leaders" in documentary photography/visual storytelling?

Mary F. Calvert comes to mind immediately. Her study on the plight of homelessness and sexual assault amongst US military personnel completely undid me. As a migrant and a minority myself, Mauricio Lima’s depiction of the refugee situation across the world is deeply moving and evocative. Likewise, Paula Bronstein, David Guttenfelder and Warren Richardson’s powerful visual narratives never fail to awaken the humanitarian that too often lies dormant in each of us. Their work always leaves me broken but impassioned to do better.

8. How about the "next big names"? Name 1-3 up-and-coming photographers who are not very famous yet, but whose work everyone should check out.

9. Do you sell prints? If yes, where can people buy them?

Yes I do and they’re available on my website

10. Why did you submit your project/photo essay to Docu Magazine?

I’ve loved reading and looking at the incredible array of photo essays showcased on Docu Magazine. They cover such a broad spectrum of people, places and moments that I wouldn’t have otherwise known or see for myself. When I completed my series, I knew I had to gather up the courage and submit it to Docu Magazine in the hopes of sharing my little corner of the world with someone else that might not have known or can see it for themselves.

BONUS: Anything else you would like to add?