1. Aesthetics – The study of the mind and emotions in relation to the sense of beauty. How has aesthetic evolved over the years and how has this influenced fashion photography? How do you approach aesthetics in your works?
What’s considered beautiful is constantly changing. Beauty isn’t a static state; it’s flowing as the ideas and beliefs of our world shift. My aesthetic is largely based on things that have come before: 60’s underground comic books, B-movies, and 50’s Hollywood film tabloid. Because of that it evokes a sense of nostalgia but the range of characters my subjects portray feel very current.
2. Identity – “We contain multitudes” wrote Walt Whitman, referring to the fact that we see ourselves in different ways depending on different contexts. Nowadays, gender and sexuality have been explored in many ways – art, cinema and of course fashion – and fashion photography has been perceived as a means to translate and picture actual reality. How do you reflect identity in your works? How has the perception of our own bodies changed in recent years? How has it been influenced by media and by fashion itself?
I create characters that are at once familiar and strange, who feel real yet look surreal to depict the malleability of identity. I think with my photos the viewer questions “is this a costume or is this a real person?” and that begins to unravel the notion of what a “real” person is. Our genetics and upbringing set the stage for our identity but we have a lot of power to shape and re-shape who we are beyond that. Who we are is also determined by how we’re seen by the world we find ourselves in but collective cultural values are always in flux. The change may come terribly slow but it’s always happening. In fashion for instance, we’re seeing more representation of a range of body types, ethnicities, and gender identities, though we still have a long way to go.
3. Beauty in Fashion – “The best part of beauty is that which no picture can express” said Francis Bacon. Fashion photography once depicted a perfect kind of beauty, almost false in its perfection. Today, fashion photography focuses on imperfection and peculiar traits. Which is your relationship with beauty? How has the language of photography mutated in the past years?
I mean, this is all so subjective. Perfection is subjective. Reality is subjective. Certainly beauty is. I am drawn to that which I think is beautiful and excites me. I don’t Photoshop or hardly ever crop after the photo’s been shot because I fall in love with all that I’ve captured and I want to capture the person and the look in the first place because I love them so much! And I think the more love I put in the more other people get out in viewing the work. A lot of my photos are borderline grotesque but I think there’s a lot of beauty in them.
4. Sociology – The study of human behaviour. How is photography capable of picturing social changes? Is fashion photography a way to picture cultural changes within society? How have social and cultural changes influenced your works?
Yes it just take time for it to work its way up to the higher echelons of the slow moving capitalist fashion system. We’re beginning to see some non-binary and trans models at high levels in fashion and plus-size models are ever so slowly becoming normalized.
5. Perceptive Variations: an exhibition about identity, gender, change. How have your works expressed this feeling? How do you express your personal background in your work?
My work is all about that! It’s loud, confrontational, and highlights a cast of characters that express a variety of identities in a playful and humorous way. As for as my personal background, I feel like I’ve lived many lives and been a chameleon of sorts. I’m still playing dress up, just like when I was a kid.
by Giovanna Pisacane