• Le Lait Miraculeux, Bettina Rheims

    An interview with Bettina Rheims

    Written by Felicia Eriksson

    Bettina Rheims knows exactly what she wants and talks about her work with great passion and warmth. During her career as a photographer she has explored the place of women in society, the beauty in the imperfection, the intimate and the floating identity.

    It’s a clear and windy day when Odalisque Magazine had the honor to meet with the French iconic photographer during her visit Stockholm for the opening of her exhibition “I’ll be your mirror” at the Fotografiska Museet (Museum of Photography).

    FE: The exhibition is called “I'll Be Your Mirror” what do we see in the reflection?

    BR: Maybe a self portrait, among all these people at the same time. Maybe a conversation between women.

    FE: How did you become a photographer?

    BR: By chance. I started out as many things, and nothing. I didn't have much talent for what I was doing, you know. I was doing little jobs that you do when you don't know where you place is yet. And one day I remembered about photography that I was doing as a teenager in school, and I remembered the pleasure of being in the darkroom, and the smell and the red light. More than anything else I remembered how I loved to be alone in there and nobody would disturb me and ask me things and look at me. I didn't want anyone to look at me. So, I gave it up for ten years or so and then I went back to it. The man I was living with at that time got me a camera and I looked through the camera and figured.. yeah I'm home.

    FE: The darkroom was your own little space?

    BR: My camera was my own little space. The viewer and the viewing. At that time I had a camera where you looked in to it from above and I looked through that square and figured that I could get rid of everything that I didn't wanted to look at. I could focus on what I wanted to focus on. Which I didn't know what it was but I knew the minute I would find what to put in my square then that would be it. There was no plan of a career. I never thought I would have a pleasure to say one day I'm a photographer. I remembered the first time a said it. I was so proud of that word.

    Bettina Rheims started out by shooting a series of acrobats and striptease artists and continued her career by questioning the gender representation and rising the awareness about androgyny and transsexuality in the series “Gender Studies”. These questions have followed her throughout her work, even in her campaigns for influential fashion houses and in her portraits of musicians and actors.

    FE: Some of your recurrent topics in your work is gender, identity and the gaze. What is it that fascinates you about this?

    BR: I don't know what fascinates me so much. Probably the intimacy of the relationship that I manage to establish with each one of the characters. Whether they are women, transsexual, teenagers or unsure of their sex. It's always the quality of the relationship, of this dance that

    we dance together. Every time somebody walks in my studio or on set and I've never seen them before, and probably will never see them afterwards, we have to live that very brief and intense relationship. It has to be passionate and it has to be all the feelings in such a short amount of time. We give each other the pleasure and the pain and it becomes great and then it becomes nothing and then it’s great again. It’s like when you dance a tango with someone for the first time and you don’t know the person and you start tripping over each others feet and you’re not in the same rhythm. And then slowly the music comes and it becomes like a flow. It becomes smooth and harmonious. That’s what happens every time. It’s more like a performance than a photo session. I mean, we almost could do it without a camera.

    FE: So the process is like a dance to you?

    BR: I talk and they answer to me with their bodies and it goes on like that until the perfect moment. Which could take some time. It’s never very long. It's very intense. It just happens.

    FE: Even though you pictures can be very sexual, they never become objectifying. It seems like the models trust you and your vision to 100%. Is this the outcome of the female gaze?

    BR: It’s because of that, of course. And it’s because they know I'm not gonna betray them. They immediately know by instinct and I know by instinct that they will trust me. Sometimes I stop people on the street to photograph them and I look at them and I see that she's gonna understand the name of the game. I would never do something to someone that I never would do to myself and they know that. It’s a pact, it’s a contact. I never cheat, I never not say the truth. It’s very straightforward. Plus they know my work so people who don't want to be in it they just don't come.

    FE: This exhibition represent your work from the past 35 years or so, what are you most proud of in your career so far?

    BR: I'm proud when somebody comes up to me and says I've learned something about myself. You've helped me. I'm proud when I help people to come out of their rooms, of their closets, of their dark corridors. I'm proud that throughout those years I've helped some people understand and look at things that they never might have looked at. To better understand the differences and what it is to be a woman and also what it is to feel that you don’t belong in the right body. All these questions that people want to avoid because it’s scary. Mybe when they look at my work they’re a bit less scared and a little bit less afraid of the differences. Because differences are beautiful and important.

    FE: Do you feel like you’ve put some light on the transsexual community by telling their story in your pictures?

    BR: You know, I'm just a little drop in a huge sea of water. But yeah, I've put some attention to that question. I am proud of that. It's a strange feeling because I have seen these pictures so many times, in so many different contexts. It seems like I could set up my mattress here and my bed. Everywhere I go is like my home because I'm surrounded by my people, they are my people.

    FE: Have you made friendships with these people?

    BR: Of course we've made friendships, but it doesn't mean that we talk every day. They come by the studio and we have a coffee maybe years later and catch up. They become family, so familiar. I mean look at this picture of Karen Elson, she might be 15 years or so. It’s not that we see each other often, but she will always remember that picture and I will always remember that moment. They’re my people.


    I’ll Be Your Mirror” will be on display at Fotografiska 15 april to 12 june 2016.

    Milla Jovovitch, 2005, Bettina Rheims
    Kate. Décembre 1989, Londres
    Kael TB
  • COS x Snarkitecture

    Written by Weronika Pérez Borjas by Michaela Myhrberg

    Looking for a shopping experience curated as carefully as an art gallery? COS invites you for a journey through a landscape full of lightness and fashion in their new collaboration with Snarkitecture. The brand has sought inventive architects to create a bridge between their spring collection, the store space and an art installation. Odalisque talks to the COS head of designers Karin Gustafsson and Martin Andersson as well as Daniel Arsham and Alex Mustonen from NY based Snarkitecture about the details of their creative collaboration.

    WPB: How did you collaborate with Snarkitecture?

    KG: We often look to the world of art and design for inspiration when creating our seasonal collections and believe that our customers share our interest. Because of our relationship with the world of art and architecture we value the opportunity to give something back and share with our customers through creative collaborations. Both Martin and I were drawn to the work of Snarkitecture while designing the Spring Summer 15 collection. We felt their ethos of “removing anything non-essential and focusing the viewer’s experience” resonated with us and the opportunity to work on an installation in Milan during the Salone del Mobile art fair felt like a natural partnership.

    MA: We believe the COS seasonal collections are reflective of the store design and equally the store design reflects collection. The interior design of the stores is created to reflect and communicate the brand ethos to our customer; modern, timeless, functional and tactile, while creating an atmosphere that is both dynamic and calm. Like the collection, our stores are functional, such as fitting rooms designed with adjustable mirrors- while at the same time reflective of our inspirations; for example, the lounge areas for customers to relax are furnished with furniture designed by the inspiring designers: Eames, Wegner and Finn Juhl.

    WPB: What are the trends and inspirations for this season at COS?

    KG: The Spring Summer 2015 collection is very sharp and graphic, minimal with a reduced and sculpted silhouette. We’ve done much research into traditional techniques; then turned it onto its head and used new technical finishes, such as laser cutting, bonding, and finding new ways of constructing.

    MA: It’s almost like a laboratory, experimenting and finding new ways of working, like the ultimate utility wear. As well as that, there’s something about the sporty lifestyle that we liked.

    KG: It’s sportiness as ready-to-wear. We also felt for lightness, technical transparency and technical finishes. There’s also an interest in mixed media, and a playful use of proportion.

    WPB: How does a successful COS design attract the customers in the high- street store context?

    MA: We aim to offer an inspiring collection comprised of wardrobe staples as well as re-invented classics that last beyond the season - the white shirt, contemporary chinos and tailored suiting - reinterpreted to fit the modern wardrobe and lifestyle. We look to offer understated fashionable pieces; nothing is overly fussy and details have a functional purpose.

    KG: When we think of our customer we think of a group of like-minded people who are interested in current issues - cultural as well as financial and political, and of course, fashion. This group of friends tend to be confident, style conscious, have a big-city mind-set and also appreciate exceptional quality and value in every element of their lives. In essence what they share is their sense of style, confidence and personality.

    WPB: How do you apply your motto “impossible voyage of an improbable crew to find an inconceivable creature” to your collaboration with COS?

    DA & AM: We created Snarkitecture with the goal of making architecture perform the unexpected. Our name is drawn from Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of The Snark, a poem which describes an “impossible voyage of improbable crew to find an inconceivable create”. In the same way, Snarkitecture is a search for the unknown between architecture and art - the indefinable moments created by manipulating and reinterpreting existing materials, structures and programs. This can be seen in our collaboration with COS, taking architecture and pushing further than others - rather than creating a building, we altered the interior to create an architectural atmosphere.

    WPB: What kind of voyage can COS’ customers expect when they enter the installation at Salone?

    DA & AM: We were interested in creating a space of calmness and interaction starting with the concept of a cavern as a primal form typically associated with darkness and the solidity of stone. We instead created something light and ephemeral, made from tens of thousands of white, translucent fabric strips. The resulting spaces and passageways invite visitors to explore as they navigate their way into the installation, and to discover secret moments concealed with the density of the surrounding enclosure.

    WPB: Why did you choose the cave as the main construction of your installation?

    DA & AM: In some ways, the quality of the material - the lightness and translucency - came first. The feel of the space was the initial brief, thinking about the qualities and creating a quiet space to evoke a reaction from the visitors. When we saw the collection, we knew we wanted to bring the perforation of translucency to the installation, shifting visual quality and architectural elements. We wanted to fill the space with fabric, playing between the lightness of the fabric and the lightness of the space to create a heavy architecture. The cave element came after, through reduction.

    WPB: I saw that you had collaborated with other fashion projects, such as the “Inverted Chukka” shoe before. How important is the connection between architecture and fashion for you?

    DA & AM: For us, fashion and architecture are different disciplines which last for different amount of times. We wanted to create a link and merge both worlds through creating work that is both architectural in terms of scale, but also fits with the short timescale of the fashion world. Whereas a building can take a month or years to produce, we build an installation, creating a temporary form of architecture.

    WPB: What do you personally like with COS?

    DA & AM: When we saw the COS SS15 collection we were definitely drawn to some of the materials and concepts that involved layering and transparency. We knew we wanted to create an environment that spoke to the clean lines, ambiguity of translucency, and layering that was so strong in the collection. We definitely see familiarities between Snarkitecture and COS’ design process. I think both of us take the existing or expected and transform it into something new.

    WPB: What are you working on now and what are your dreams and plans?

    DA & AM: We want to take the existing or expected and transform it into something new. We’ve been very fortunate to work on a number of great projects with amazing clients and collaborators. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished but, of course, we are always looking forward. We do have dream projects such as the idea of a playground for children - a play city.

  • photography TOBIAS CENTERWALL

    An interview with Amason

    Written by Felicia Eriksson

    Amason recently released their first album called Sky City and people are already talking about them as a “super group”. I guess it’s because of the members backgrounds, or maybe it’s because they have super powers? The five members of the band are Amanda Bergman, also known as Jaw Lessons and Idiot Wind, Nils Törnqvist and Petter Winnberg from Little Majorette, Gustav Ejstes, the frontman of the band Dungen and Pontus Winnberg from the producer duo Bloodshy & Avant who is also a part of Miike Snow.

    It’s a snowy morning and I’m the first one to arrive at the studio where I’m supposed to meet up with the band. One by one the members show up, brushing the snow off their shoulders and one has bought a huge cardamom bun. The mood in the studio is post weekend/first day of the week mixed with an eager to catch up since they last saw each other.

    FE: How did all five of you meet? When did your paths cross?

    PW: Petter and I are brothers so we met quite early in life. Petter and Nils became friends.

    Then they saw Amanda play during a gig in Gothenburg.

    AB: And then we had a beer together.

    PW: Yes, and after that Gustav and I met and decided to schedule a meeting in the studio and just try it out.

    FE: So that’s when the idea about starting a band together was born?

    PW: Yes, but this whole idea about being a band was for us pretty aimless. We booked a few gigs and then we became this band and then we just couldn’t cancel those concerts, ha-ha.

    FE: What’s an Amason? I know nothing about cars, but it’s a car right?

    AB: It’s a special type of Volvo from the 60s and it has these very soft shapes.

    PW: It has this aura of a romantic picture of Sweden during the 60s and the 70s, but also of some kind of glamorous spirit of the future? But still very down to earth.

    FE: Anyone who owns a car like this or has some kind of interest in cars?

    PW: I think Amanda is the one who really likes cars?

    AB: The weirdest thing happened to me this weekend when I just realized that damn I really love my car. That was such a strange feeling? But it was a great moment.

    PW: If you’re going to be tough and hard core car enthusiasts you should go for these cool vintage cars and all that but for me it’s completely the opposite. I like it high tech and secure.

    AB: It must have this feeling of a spaceship.

    GE: And then you drive in 140 km/h and listen to Brian Eno.

    FE: Amason released their first album SKY CITY in January. Tell me about the album!

    GE: Its 12 finished pieces out of 17 tries.

    PW: Yeah, that’s true. We tried a few times and then it felt complete.

    AB: It’s a direct reflection of our trying to be a band and we managed to create this record and that feels very good. Now we’ve been born and got some clothes on so next up is to make another one.

    FE: You formed back in 2012?

    AB: Yes, that’s when it all begun but it was in 2013 that we started to play in front of audiences.

    NT: It all happened very sporadically. Sometimes it’s been three months without any contact between us.

    FE: It’s like a long distance relationship?

    NT: Definitely. The first time we got the chance to play together for three days in a row it all felt very luxurious.

    FE: Then the process must have been very easy and fast since you managed to produce an album in such a short period of time?

    AB: I guess we all were surprised, or surprised might be the wrong word since we didn’t expect anything from the beginning, but of course we were happy when the process went smoothly.

    PW: In fact the album has existed since the summer of 2014 but in other forms. I talked about this with Peter and I think an album has to be ready 5-6 times before it’s definitive.

    AB: Yes, you are filling it with different things and then it’s sinking again.

    GE: It’s the same with cornflakes where the packages always tells you that if you think the content is less than its supposed to be, it’s because it all been shaken together.

    PW: Think about what would happen if we did that with our album? If it’s not what you expect it’s because it all has collapsed and sunken.

    FE: You guys are coming from different backgrounds, how do you combine them in the band?

    PW: I don’t think we’re different from other bands, the thing with Amason is just that all of our previous works are for public view.

    FE: Do you feel like Amason is like a sanctuary? A place for creative freedom?

    PW: When you start something up, whatever it is, you always has to feel that freedom.

    AB: The good thing about Amason is that everyone has their own experiences and knows how everything works in this business so we don’t have to spend time to figure that sort of things out.

    GE: But Amason gives us a lot of freedom since we all have other projects that we’re doing at the same time. Sometimes we create things we never would have done by ourselves.

    PW: My view on this is that as long as you don’t throw your stuff out to the audience it’s still yours. But as soon as you start letting it go you have to be prepared to get some kind of feedback, good or bad. Amason is suddenly getting its own life and starts to form something we can’t control. All we can do is to look after this baby and take care of it the best we can. What we can do is to make sure this baby is growing and that we, as parents, stay friends.

    FE: What up with all the animals? (At least five songs on the album are named for some kind of animal)

    AB: The names have just been working titles and from the beginning… it was… I really need some coffee.. anyone else?

    Amanda is running down the stairs.

    PW: I guess the names and the animals just came spontaneously when we improvised. Mostly for Amanda who thought that one song sounded like an animal and then we just started to say “yeah that song Ålen (the eel, editor’s note) we played before” so there’s no plan behind the animals.

    Amanda comes back and passes around the coffee.

    AB: I guess that’s how it is, even though we don’t have a concept from the start its always ends up being a concept. But the animals are just a reference to the way the songs sounded.

    GE: The interesting thing is to think about what song would have scales and which one would have fur?

    FE: One thing that I really like is that you manage to combine both the Swedish and English language and it still has this cohesive sound. Has this been a challenge?

    GE: Well, I always write songs in Swedish so when we brought everything together it all just falls into the right place, so it has never been an issue for us.

    AB: It just happened naturally. Most of the songs are made from an instrumental ground and then we add the lyrics just from the feeling we get from the music.

    FE: Are you going on tour now?

    PW: Right now we’re looking at the summer and we already have some shows booked, like in Norrköping during a festival and one gig in Gothenburg.

    AB: Of course we’re hoping for a busy summer with a lot of gigs but you know, there are always these practicalities that need to be considered. But we’re very happy that people seem to like Sky City which gives us more chance to be booked.

    FE: So the vision for Amason in the future would be…?

    PW: To do more live performances. I don’t think it will take that long until we start thinking about another album… or maybe that’s exactly what everyone is saying? But we have this ambition about to get started on one pretty soon. 

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