• 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
  • An interview with Maria Hedmark

    Written by Dahlia Celestina by Michaela Widergren

    “ LINIE celebrates the sophistication of simplicity through a disciplined design process. By minimizing unnecessary cuts and seams with a one-pattern-piece theory, LINIE’s detail-oriented tailoring allows the fabric and body to express their purest forms. - LINIE brings body, style and garment into balance “; is how designer Maria Hedmark describes her design and is also exacly how I’d like to introduce you to the brand Linie.  

    DC: Being Swedish, has that changed your view on your own fashion line since you’ve been in New York? 

    MH: Being in New York has given me the guts to start my own fashion line. I don’t think I would have started my own line as early in life as I did if I would still be in Sweden. I’m not sure if that is about “The law of Jante” or that life is very comfortable in Sweden. Moving to New York was a big step for my inner growth, and being here and in this business put me in to a lot of stress. I realized I could handle that, and not just handle but I was actually also good at it. By having my own line I’ve been able to evolve as a person and in my skills.

    DC: Starting off with menswear, do you feel like moving forward to creating womenswear has helped your creative process?

    MH: For me starting off with menswear has definitely helped me to acknowledge the cut and importance of a well-fitted garment, as well as the substance of a great fabric and drape. I took all these factors in to consideration when moving forward with womenswear. Many womenswear labels today are about adding seaming, trims and ornaments to a garment, but that has never been my aesthetic. Although I appreciate the straight forward with menswear I think there is a bigger span of clothing in womenswear and what kind of fabric you can use is almost unlimited. If I would use similar fabrications and cuts in menswear it would most likely look like costumes or an art project. 

    DC: You are known for your clean cut, simple yet edgy designs and tailoring. Do you think your style of tailoring/designing will ever change in the future fashion years to come? 

    MH: I have been very strict with my rules of how to make a garment. In the end I want as few seams as possible and ideally as few pattern pieces doable. For example, I have only added a cut if it’s necessary for the fit or that it creates unnecessary waste of the fabric. Adding another fabric to the garment is only “legal” if there has to be a cut within the shape of the garment. But in the end it’s actually about making a beautiful piece. So in the future I will most likely stretch those rules, that’s just part of the evolution. 

    DC: What was your reason/inspiration for calling your fashion line “LINIE”? 

    MH: First of all the Swedish word for “line” is “linje” pronounced [ˈliːni̯ə]. LINIE is just a graphical nicer spelling.

    I have always believed that all human beings have their own kind of language with how they write, draw and create things. This has been created through life and your experiences. So having your own fashion line is not just of how your clothes look, you have to go to the very fundamental beginning of your process – the line that you draw on a paper for a sketch. You are the only one who can make that line. Going to the next step with draping and patternmaking, you put in your own handwork and language in to that piece. How you create a shape and how you handle the cutting of a fabric and sewing is all a very unique process. So the final line up of the collection and your aesthetic is all the result of how you created that early first drawn line.


    Written by Felicia Eriksson

    XENOPHORA is the brand created by the designer Karissma Yve. Based in Detroit, she focuses in creating relics that is a step away from just being ordinary fashion jewelry. The creative process, the ancient hand made techniques and the relation between the floating poetry and the raw textures marks the aesthetics of Karissma Yve’s world.

    FE: The name XENOPHORA comes from the ancient Greek meaning “bearing foreigners”, in what way does this reflects in your design?

    KY: XENOPHORA holds a very foreign and anomalous spirit within the jewelry objects. I think of the silver and how I manipulate, carve and sculpt it. While the silver has its own purity and material composition, it now has a new component - a foreigner, which is me. These precious objects hold me within as its foreigner, once my hands touches the material it becomes perfectly imperfected, blistered, blackened and filled with a new essence. It is not a XENOPHORA object until it goes through a series of transitions and each and every object undoubtedly contains a piece of me.

    FE: The objects seems to be more than just adornment, each piece is like a small sculpture you can wear on your body. How come you chose jewelry as a way of expression?

    KY: It all starts off as a form a writing, a collection of intimate thoughts, theories and manifestations. For centuries jewelry has had many esoteric attachments to them, both the finished products and its alchemical processes. My vodouisant ancestors would tie dried herbs around there necks, stack copper or carved wood circlets engraved with symbols up to their elbows. While ancestors on my mother’s side would melt lead on a spoon, over candle fire and pour the molten metal into water. They would then read the oracle based on the form that the lead took from the rapid cooling and casting process.. this is how they told the future.

    Jewelry ties both of these practices into one for me. Its an oracle and a relic worn for reasons that goes beyond what I can express. The alchemical process excites me and leaves me in awe every time I create something new.

    FE: Tell me more about the techniques you’re using? How important are these for yourself and for the final product?

    KY: Technique is very important and there is no final object without technique, as it is the beginning toward the end. Understanding what it is that I would want to convey is the beginning. I then must select the technique that best translates the thought into precious metal matter. Its mostly an organic process when choosing which technique works with what. Its whatever I am drawn to in that moment. Then I will either sculpt the material, carve or pour molten metal into sand or bone.

    I am uncovering more and more ancient techniques and making my own techniques to proper translate my poetry very often, so it changes quite frequently. I don’t want to be too accustomed to one way of doing things. Its organic, each piece is hand-made one at a time. The possibilities for working in metal are broad and it all depends on what the piece calls for. Its like I am sourcing my thoughts and inspirations from my inner most core and then the techniques come to me and while working, the technique matures. 

    FE: Instead of talking about collections, you’re working around the concept of phases. The current phase of XENOPHORA is the 3rd one, called “Instead I Ransomed Ash and Bone” - where does the inspiration within this phase come from?

    KY: Phase 003 Instead I Ransomed Ash and Bone, comes directly from a piece of writing that I did while in this specific phase. The inspiration comes directly from experience, as with each and every phase that I create. In this time I was journeying through this primordial ash and the current zeitgeist (which is the bone) and bridging the gaps between them. 

    FE: Starting out as a jewelry brand, XENOPHORA is now taking the first steps into a new realm. You recently collaborated with a designer in Detroit and created a limited collection of bags. Tell me more about the process and the product?

    KY: Collaborations come as ritual unions. I’ve always wanted to adapt hardwares for handbags… Hardware that is atypical, organic yet functional and brutalistic. Upon meeting the founder of Around. Before we thought that we might create a capsule collection where we could develop something unique while maintaining our individuality. Our time designing was filled with unifying our individual perspectives. XENOPHORA being rough, brutalist, raw and primitive and Around. Before being minimal, highly constructed and almost mechanical. We wanted to create wearable objects where the hardware was not only functional but an adornment to the fleshly walls of the leather.

    FE: Compare to the crazy trend obsessive fashion industry, do you feel that the jewelry industry, in some way, is standing outside that fast spinning wheel? I’m thinking about the long lasting materials and the timeless design that often characterizes jewelry?

    KY: I don’t know what the fashion jewelry industry looks like. The XENOPHORA universe is more than just a jewelry brand, as my focus when creating the ‘jewelry’ objects is not trend oriented, it’s quite the contrary - its controlled by something more archaic and primitive. A conjuring of otherness, which may be otherworldly though it has its place here. With XENOPHORA I work to create an aesthetic universe - these objects are hand-made with a trueness to the materiality, though not limited to ‘just being jewelry’ I work to not change the materiality of the pieces.

    Silver is silver and diamonds are diamonds. I look not to cover the materials spirit. Rather use the material as a tool or aid in capturing a specific thought and/or concept. So I communicate with the spirit of the material, I only burnish the surface until it is at its most beautiful and natural state and let it oxidize with time while letting the diamonds just be diamonds - raw, uncut or minimally cut and in its natural untreated state.

    FE: What are the future holding for XENOPHORA?

    KY: I try not to work within boundaries. XENOPHORA is an object based atelier - the wearable sculptural ‘jewelry’ objects is the just an artisanal beginning to a complete object universe. Some days the future does not concern me in the typical way. Many seeds have already been planted and some seeds take the form of object expansion, new experiments, more collaborations and presence.

    Currently I am working on my 4th Phase, a new collaboration for developing sculptural hardwares for an Italian handbag atelier, a small brutalist and hand made Home Collection with furniture objects and dinnerwares in addition to objets d’art which will be presented during spring/summer 2016 femme Paris fashion week.. The future of XENOPHORA holds a continuation of story telling through the object and more romantic escapes of color.