Anna Maggý is a rising star in Reykjavík. The work of the 24-year-old photographer, videographer and artist has been featured in many exhibitions, magazines and advertising campaigns. With a striking style that effortlessly captures the zeitgeist, she has recently moved into directing music videos. Describing herself as chaotic, extreme, individual and unstoppable, she’s thought of as one of the best Icelandic photographers of her generation.
Having grown up in the West of Iceland, Anna Maggý moved to Reykjavík when she was eight years old. Her childhood was defined by freedom—something that she believes shaped her in many ways. “I’m definitely a very free spirit,” she says. “I really liked spending time on my own when I was younger and I enjoyed making things with my hands. My grandparents sent me to art school at a young age so I studied fine arts until I began my career as a photographer.”
The career choice “just happened,” she shrugs. “I fell in love with the process of capturing a moment into some kind of form or record. My first camera was a tiny pink Canon which I was given as a confirmation gift. I haven’t stopped taking pictures since that moment.”
No understanding of time
Anna Maggý swapped art school for the Icelandic school of photography, Ljósmyndaskólinn, where she studied for two years. “Until I got kicked out,” she smiles. “But I really recommend that school. The set up is amazing and the teaching method is really personal.”
Nevertheless, she has developed a strong personal style. “A great image must tell a story,” she says. “But it’s also really important for me that images somehow confuse me, disturb me or grab my attention for a considerably long time. Images that are really challenging for the eye and the mind.”
She describes her own style of photography as “Surreal and real, and maybe confusing. I forget time when I’m in action. I don’t understand time. I do—but I don’t.”
However, Anna Maggý also doesn’t stray to the other extreme. “I don’t think about timelessness when I take photos,” she says. “But I think a timeless photo captures the moment in such a way that an audience can relate to it, even many years later, I guess. Timelessness is a big word. It is partially objective and therefore subject to bias and opinions. You’ll see more often than not that it’s really the opinion of the viewer that makes the final call.”
The magic of shooting on film
Anna Maggý shoots primarily on film in her personal work, but uses digital cameras for commercials. “I use digital for jobs that I have to work fast and finish quickly,” she explains. “For me, film is more magical. Sometimes it’s good to not to have too many moments, too many frames and too many options.”
For Anna Maggý, printed photography still has power in the fast moving digital world. “It’s not the same to look at pieces of art from a phone or a computer than actually seeing it in reality,” she says. “And I love the physical presence of a print. I often feel that people are now realizing that photography is also an art form. Fine art prints created by the artist because they best represent the artist’s vision. For me, a photograph simply isn’t a photograph until it’s printed.”
Just say yes
Anna Maggý made her first music video two years ago—another thing that “just happened.” She was asked by an artist, and took the opportunity. “I just said yes and decided to go ahead and do it,” she says. “I let myself develop and to constantly try out new things. I have no idea what I’ll do next.”
She has previously worked with artists like rappers Jóipjé + Króli, electronic artist Futuregrapher, and acclaimed singers and musicians Högni and Bríet. For the new video that she directed for Munstur she was given creative control, and shot the video at the Iceland Institute for the Arts using a blue backdrop specially made for the video. Actors and models clad in blue appear in front of the camera, creating images that are part fashion-shoot, part art installation and part surrealist fantasy.
Desire for ideas
She has a strong affinity for Icelandic music, including favourites like Gus Gus, Björk, Mr. Silla. But many of her inspirations come simply from daydreaming. “I keep an open mind,” she says, “to be full of desire for ideas and to be ready to catch them.”
Her current workload includes three more music videos—but as always, she struggles to sit still. “I’m going to India tomorrow,” she finishes. “Hopefully I will catch some good ideas there.”
At the top of her game, Anna Maggý is still hungry for more. Perhaps the trip will give her the opportunity to finally capture her dream subject. In her own words? “I’d love to photograph the unseen.”
Anna Maggý is a photographer, videographer and artist. Follow her on Instagram at @not_annamaggy
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