Marina Fini Creates a Magical World at Mount Analogue

Marina Fini. Photo by Luci Crystal.

Pink and purple Plexiglas hearts dangle from the windows. Glitter wallpaper reflects the afternoon light, heart-shaped chairs light up and faux marble columns are packed in plastic.

With her silver-glittered platform sandals, pastel purple socks and matching pants, LA-based artist Marina Fini looks right at home at Mount Analogue, the Pioneer Square publishing house/shop/art space where she’s creating an immersive installation. A Plexiglas butterfly earring dangles from her ear. Three aliens on her pink sweater proclaim: I believe.

“I create magical worlds for people to be in,” Fini says. She calls herself a “cyber fairy hippie”—and on the most physical of planes of existence she’s also a photographer, designer, jewelry-maker, Plexiglas furniture designer and, more recently, installation-maker. Her film set-style installations are banquets of neon, glitter, plants and plush that look like real-life iterations of how someone from the ’60s imagined the future—on acid.

Last summer, Fini filled Heron Arts in San Francisco with a video-game-cum-indoor-jungle theme park, complete with scents and sounds, fake marble sculptures and videos on old iMac computers. Her newest installation, “Clean Rooms. Low Rates,” at Mount Analogue is an immersive “motel-scape,” opening tonight as part of Mount Analogue’s month-long homonymous cross-genre project, named after a new book about the quintessential queasiness of the American motel by writer Jeff Parker and photographer Brendan Barry.

Fini’s installation at Heron Arts. Photo by Marina Fini

When I meet up with Fini to talk about the project at Mount Analogue, she issues a gentle disclaimer. Yes, she feels more “like a spirit than a person,” but no, she “doesn’t do drugs.” She gestures towards her body: “It sounds trippy, but I often forget this physical aspect of me.”

Creating an immersive installation like this must be a very physical experience, though?
Yes, but when I’m installing I’m usually working nonstop without much sleep. The sleep-deprivation helps to channel this head trip naturally.

What will the room look like?
There will be neon lights, a plushy bed, a giant heart-shaped mirror hung from the ceiling, Plexiglas art and furniture and a screen with my video work. It’s kitsch meets run-down love-motel. I like the idea of bringing this love motel ruin of the past into a future-ized, ultra-heightened reality, one that is more comical and self-aware. That’s why there’s so many mirrors: It shows that we are all narcissists, but it also implores self-reflection—literally and figuratively—from different sides.

Art Basel motelscape. Photo by Marina Fini
Art Basel motel-scape. Photo by Marina Fini.

It’s based on an original installation you did during Art Basel Miami Beach. What’s different now?
The installation was in an actual motel. I just brought over my furniture and created this giant installation. You had to call a secret number to get access. Doing this during one of the most prestigious art fairs in the world was a political statement: The art world is so exclusive. A motel is very transactional, in the sense that a lot of drugs and sex is exchanged in secret. The art world is very similar, with all these deals made behind closed doors.

You created the Art Basel “motelscape” with artists Sydney Krause, Signe Pierce and Sierra Grace. How is this one more yours?
My friend Sierra Grace, who is from Miami, told me about the motel with the heart-themed room and I was immediately fascinated. The original show was a collaboration; all the artists were my friends and I asked them to help me do it. I usually include friends in my work. During my last show, visitors walked through secrets paths to discover videos or other work by artists and friends. At Mount Analogue, we’ll have numerous performances by artist-friends of mine.

Art Basel motelscape. Photo by Marina Fini.
Art Basel motel-scape. Photo by Marina Fini.

What do you like about motels?
There’s something about motels that’s like a mysterious mirage. It’s a quick moment where people show up and disappear again to sometimes hide from reality, only to be woken up to face it all again. Motels breed a certain archetype of activity and attract the oddest of characters and I think that’s why I am fascinated by them. The neon signage in the distance lets you know it’s there when no one else is.   

Your work seems to reconcile sincerity with the insincere and shiny. Would you say it’s both serious and ironic?
I like playing on dark comedy examining our reality, and to make fun of myself or ourselves and what reality dictates us to do. At the same time, I’d like to show that reality is not all that bad. I want to create magical things and places full of joy and happiness. In the end, it’s not about making a dark statement but about spreading color.

You talked about the art world being exclusive. Are you making it more accessible?
My dream is to have a public, free and long-term healing space. Ideally, it would consist of seven rooms where every room has a color of a chakra. You’ll be walking through a rainbow. 

What do you want people to heal from exactly?
I think people hold back a lot. That can come from trauma or more generally from expectations put on us by society. I’m hoping to empower people’s inner strength with healing objects and spaces to help them see they can do anything they want. This comes from my experiences with Reiki, which is energy healing light work. I’ve been integrating it into my sculptures and spaces for the last year by using healing devices, crystals and color therapy. The Dutch ’70s concept of Snoezelen—based on the idea that multi-sensory installations can help create relief and healing for people with autism and mental disorders—is also a huge inspiration.

At the end of the day, I want to help people and make them feel good when they look at my work, in person or online. It’s fine if people think its mumbo-jumbo or just don’t like it. It makes me and at least a couple of other people happy—and that’s enough for me.

“Clean Rooms. Low Rates” opens Nov. 2 at Mount Analogue from 5 – 9 p.m. Various performances continue inside the installation through Nov. 30.