Thursday, 18 June 2009


Bruce and Emma Willis in Honeymoon Hotel shot by Steven Klein for W mag

Portraiture in the past has been regarded as a documentation of a person but for me it is a documentation of the encounter between myself and the subject. It is not meant to reveal them, nor is it meant to subject them to an X-ray; it is a departure from that. I am more interested in the alchemical reaction that occurs when elements are brought together in a space.

Not so much a collaboration between photographer and subject, more a scientific experiment - the studio becomes a lab. For me the portrait is not psychological either. It is atomic. Atoms change their electrical charge continuously, and the more challenging the shoot, the greater the chance of this charge. Yes, I do begin with an idea, a series of ideas that link together logically. But logic is often superseded by events beyond my control.

Art starts as a means of control but the atoms that compose us can spin in a different direction. When you see Madonna in a series of these images, she is neither a perfected icon nor is she revealed instead she remains ambiguous. I feel the obsession with celebrities is for the most part based on a tired need to know oneself through the other, and perhaps the concept of knowing oneself is all deluded.

There is a desire to link photography with painting. My background is painting and I feel there is no connection between the two. It is as if the camera is linked to a sin, producing a bastard art form that we feel we must link to the past in order to give it credentials. I don't want those credentials. I have no need to apologize for photography. My archives exist only for sound business reasons; otherwise my work would be disposable. And there lies the contradiction, for I am a private person not an exhibitionist, I am a person who lives for the future, not the past; I am standing behind a camera in order that I can extend myself in front of it. (STEVEN KLEIN)


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