Marta Musa – Eastside Culture Crawl

Eastside Culture CrawlAt another location of the Eastside Culture Crawl in Vancouver at the Octopus Studio I came across an exhibition by Marta Musa. Marta is mainly a street and travel photographer, and her mission is to rediscover the world. Many of Marta’s images tend to have a lot of shadows in them and are very interesting in that they have a lot of mood to them.

One of her street portraits is a photo of an elderly Cambodian woman, dressed in a black and yellow dress with a red checked turban on her head, standing or sitting next to a weathered tree trunk. I really like the analgous tones in this image – the woman’s skin tones and the hue of the tree trunk are almost the same and blend nicely with the yellow in her dress. The red turban provides a focal accent to the image keeping one’s eye on the woman. The texture of the woman’s character laden face are similar to that of the tree trunk – both have many stories to tell – and the deep shadows with a hint of light behind her separate her from the background and serve to create a sense of mystery to the story. Where is she, what is she doing?

Another of Marta’s images that I particularly enjoyed was one of a canyon in the South West USA. It reminded me of the movie 127 hours, starring James Franco – the one where he gets his arm trapped under a boulder and, in order to survive, amputates his own arm. The photograph is taken at the bottom of the canyon, with daylight streaming in from above. Weathered sand is trickling to the floor of the canyon and Marta has slowed her shutter speed to capture this movement creating an ethereal feel to the image. A beautiful chiaroscuro with hues of orange and deepening to black to the sides and top of the frame.

One of her Cuba images also caught my fancy. It is an image of a boy dressed in a bright blue t-shirt standing on a spiral staircase – treacherous because the staircase has no railings at all and it is being propped up by a 2×4 plank and a piece of steel girder. The room has seen better days and probably was part of a very fancy house in the pre-revolution days. A few rows of once beautiful delft tiles remain on the wall next to the staircase, while the tiles on the floor seem to have been removed and the floor is partly demolished. Old fashioned electrical boxes with naked wires hang precariously on the side of the wall. This image evokes a feeling of sadness in me as I have been to Cuba and seen these scenes for myself. It is such a shame that this incredibly beautiful country with its amazing architecture has been allowed to fall into rack and ruin, where buildings are literally falling down around the inhabitants. The almost monochrome colours of this image seem to bear witness to this. All attention is focused on the little boy in the bright blue shirt – a metaphor for the country – all hope for Cuba is centred on its youth, who can hopefully bring Cuba out into the twenty first century.

Reference List

Marta Musa Photography [online]. Available from: [Accessed 22 November, 2014]


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