In ”Before You (2020)”, her most personal series of photos so far, photographer Sanja Marušić portrays herself as a mother in the making. Through self-portraits she explores and expresses both a body and a person in transition, granting the viewer a look into the most significant change her colourful lifeworld has gone through so far.
Characteristic of Sanja’s photography are vivid colours, imaginative costumes, and surreal settings. The body, as a shape, has always been in the heart of the miniature performances Sanja captures in her photographs. Typically, her work finds its genesis in what she experiences in her own life. In “Before You” her pregnancy inspired her to play with the thought that ‘my photography and life are no longer about myself alone’. Aware of these new responsibilities, her performances have become more personal than ever. Moments of vulnerability alternate with those marked with fearlessness and determination.
For instance, in one of the pictures, we see a figure jumping into the air, seemingly rushing out of the frame. In an energetic gesture, she spreads her arms wide open, suggesting a warm welcome. Her floral skirts and red scarf flutter in the air. Her face is partly hidden underneath a hat patched with three colourful flowers. The scenery is full of blossoms; white, red, and green. Though she is fully dressed, we see her breasts through a sheer blouse. This is Spring, the exciting promise of a new dawn.
Those privies to Sanja’s photography, know that the figures in her work are never rendered as particularly female or male. In Before You Sanja explores a new path: she emphasizes her femininity without any hesitation.
In Before You, another novelty in Sanja Marušić’s work, we get to see her face, even though it is only once while standing in front of a swirling mosaic. The curviness of the background and the pink circles on her breasts emphasize the transition of her body during her pregnancy. Through the pink facial paint, we see an ambiguous gaze that is both strong and restless.
In another picture, she hides her head behind her body. Different shapes cover different body parts: blue lines on her front leg, pink blocks on the other. As though her identity, that was once anchored, has now come loose. Her body is no longer hers alone and at the same time, she is preparing for the new roles that await her.
Sanja experienced pregnancy as a powerful and transformative stage in life, which she here conveys through a ‘photographic journey that is, altogether, crazy, confusing, and surreal’, using her artistic tools to explore ‘who I was at that moment and who I desired to become’.