Monday, 26 March 2012

Fashion Films

Photographer: me Model: Domi

They have been around for a while - some say since 2009. They have been mostly for insiders, but now fashion films are becoming better known by the general public thanks to festivals and fashion events at which they are shown, and of course, thanks to the proliferation of fashion websites. The Business of Fashion lists the best of such films in 2011 - worth watching them.

But Queenie Chan in her article "What is a fashion film" in Portable TV argues that fashion films have been around since the days of silent movies, only people did not realise it. And she does have a point.

Showstudio, founded by Nick Knight is a fashion website that promotes fashion with the contribution of the "world’s most sought-after filmmakers, writers and cultural figures to create visionary online content, exploring every facet of fashion through moving image, illustration, photography and the written word".

So you can imagine how flattered I was to be invited to model - solo - in a fashion film produced by Showstudio, to be shot this coming Sunday by Marie Schuller and to be shown in London on 12th April. Showstudio will have clips. The film will have a mix of fashion and nudity.

I have never been in a fashion film and I am curious. I am used to seeing myself in still photographs, me in a film is a different matter! But why not, it sounds fun to shoot and its always good to try things out.

Photographer: Nagib El-Desouky

When you start researching the fashion film as a genre you realise that there is a very fine line between the fashion film, the music video and also the art video. Ravished by Illusion is a website that epitomises that - the first blog about fashion films but also about short art films and music videos, most of which can be seen on Vimeo.

Will the fashion film supplant the catwalk show? No, not in a long time. But fashion films are becoming the norm. Already throughout London underground one can see short films, mainly commercials, dotting the walls on the escalators and on the walls opposite the platforms. Fashion films will soon appear, I am willing to bet.

Some designers use the fashion film to get the attention of buyers and journalists. There are already Fashion TVs broadcasting films of runway shows but also editorials.


Photographer: Nagib El-Desouky

Back to me - it is my own blog after all! My foray into fashion is linked to my quirky hair. Tomorrow things may/will change. Fashion has a very zen quality, in that it belongs to the here and now. I find this salutary.

(All photos modelled by Alex B unless otherwise stated)

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The biological clock also ticks for men

 Photographer: Me. Model: Domi
A friend of mine confided in me a few days ago. She has been seeing a fifty plus year old man for some months. She is a couple of years older than him,and has grown up children from a previous relationship.
It seems that her new beau flippantly told her she was too old for him because he wants to start a family to carry on the family name. Adoption does not appeal to him. He left it a little late, he says, he really wanted to make something of himself and now  he needs to be with a younger woman of childbearing age. It's up to her if she wants to continue to see him, he is  happy with her otherwise but she should know that as soon as the opportunity arises he will dump her because she can no longer have children.
I was enraged by this.
Dump him, I told her, you deserve far better than this. Only a callous and conceited man could dishonour you this way.  I used the word dishonour with a purpose. How dare he  fault her for not being able to conceive when she has actually raised her own children. How dare he opine that women are no better than cars, you get a new model when the older one no longer satisfies you?  That getting a younger woman to conceive his baby is the solution to his yearning for fatherhood?! As if all there was about having children was being able to inseminate...

Photographer: Nagib El-Desouky
I left my friend wondering what to do, it is her decision. And I began to question  whether this idea of men enjoying fertility for the rest of their life was not a bit of an exaggeration. I did some online research and this is what I found. Apparently, no, it is not only the age of the woman that matters, that of a man is also important. Older men fathering children have been linked to a number of genetic disorders, caused by the quality of their sperm.  The following paragraphs are summarised from my source, Scientific American .

 Photographer: Nagib El-Desouky
"Advancing paternal age is associated with spontaneous mutations—changes in the nucleotide sequence of a chromosome. The older men get, the more vulnerable their sperm becomes to such spontaneous genetic mutations.When it comes to reproductive outcomes, older men are actually disadvantaged compared with older women, due to the high rate of sperm cell division. McGrath points out that during a woman's lifetime, her oocyte cells divide only 23 times. Women are born with all of the eggs they will ever carry. Once boys hit puberty, their sperm cells divide every 16 days. "By the time a man is 40, his sperm cells have undergone 660 cell divisions, and 800 cell divisions by age 50," he says. More divisions translate into a higher risk for genetic alterations....People have always focused on maternal age, but now we know that paternal age matters, too. This is a true paradigm shift," Malaspina says."
I could not agree more.

(All photos modelled by Alex B unless otherwise stated)

Monday, 19 March 2012

And the photograph belongs to...

I did a shoot on Saturday with photographer Nagib after a gap of nearly four years. Yes, four years. It was a great shoot that went on for hours - we talked, tried different things and compared notes about taking photographs. Nagib loves working on photography that has a painterly look, many people are puzzled by it and wonder why he does not do 'real photography' - he does, by the way, more conventional photography too. I am into film photography but do not hesitate to scan films and do digital postprocessing because an unprocessed photograph is rarely perfect and needs some work and I prefer digital postprocessing, it is easier for me.  Of course I am a beginner, still making mistakes - like when I was in the lab earlier today processing a b/w film and left the fixer on for three times over the required time. Normally I just take photos for myself, but this time feeling a bit overconfident I took pictures for a friend who needs them for her dissertation and needs them fast - used to digital cameras she found it most bizarre I had to use film and develop it myself and could not cope well with waiting.  She has a deadline so I had to get up very early to use the lab before all the students got in. And when, distracted by an email I picked up on the iPhone, I forgot about the fixer, my heart sank, believing I had screwed up the shoot. But no, black and white film is very forgiving so I did eventually get the roll of film, with  nicely exposed frames. The look of pride on my face was noticed by the girl at reception when I got out of the lab and went into the adjacent room, the film in my hands, to cut it into strips.
But I am digressing. I was having this very interesting conversation with Nagib, whom I first shot with when I was having  problems with a very talented photographer with whom I fell out over ownership of photographs- the situation was later resolved. I do remember saying at the time that models co-own the photographs taken of them and I was really big on collaboration. In fact I even went as far as saying that models did the whole work and photographers simply took the picture - sorry, I do take it back!

 I have done a lot of thinking since then, especially since I took up photography myself. Oh yes. I too am one of those photographers who cannot deal with photos being processed by a third party (in my case developed and processed). When Domi asked me if I could give her the roll of film because she needed the shots in a hurry and could get them developed quickly  I was quite outraged by the request and endevoured to get up at an ungodly hour to be the first to reach the lab. No way, no one is going to touch my photographs.
And I told Nagib while modelling for him that the way I feel about photography today is that models can give from 10% to 40% input but the rest of the work is done by the photographer. So the photograph is rightfully the photographer's. Oh how would the former photographer friend love hearing me say this, after all those endless arguments. We no longer speak to each other, after resolving the issue of who would get  the photos we  parted ways completely, there were bad feelings involved. And now I find myself having exactly the same attitude as him (except that I say these things a little more charmingly). Nagib did laugh, especially when I described the feeling of dismay at the suggestion that Domi could get someone else to work on my photos.  Not my precious films. Nothing to do with believing my work is superb, on the contrary. It is because every roll of film I shoot is a learning curve for me and I want to be fully involved from start to finish.

So I guess I will not be very popular with other models when I say that the photograph belongs to the photographer (though he/she can 'give' it to someone if they so wish). Now if I could only put the clock back and take back  the silly  things I said in the past...

(All photos in this post are by Nagib El-Desouky and modelled by Alex B)

Friday, 16 March 2012

Catching up with blogging

Photographer: Nagib-El-Desouky
It's been some days since my last post. I have been incredibly busy and was not home much. I don't like posting from my iPhone, I need a proper laptop at the very least and most importantly, I need my photographs (by me and of me) to upload and I don't normally carry them around with me.
Oh and I lost all my iPhone contacts! I am not good at synching with my computer, in fact I lost the contacts because I downloaded and synched with the latest iPhone OS. So I am retrieving the numbers from old calls but they come up with no names. The upshot of this is that if you get a text message from me asking who you are, no, I have not gone mad. I am just rebuilding my contact list.
I did a photoshoot last weekend with the lovely Dominique who patiently modelled for me. Such a beautiful woman! She has a very dramatic look.
Then I got incredibly busy again with my own modelling - I  am doing another runway show on Sunday, at the Ideal Home exhibition in Earl's Court  (I know, somewhat incongruous, but I have been asked and a job is a job. Love the dress I am modelling by the way, and THANK YOU Angel Sinclair and Models of Diversity for inviting me) - I LOVE runway shows, they give me a chance to dress up (or undress, as it happened with Robyn Coles hats).  And of course I still have to deal with the day job  and my dance therapy course!
Photographer: AlexBPhotography
 I have now decided to train as a Lacanian psychoanalyst, something that will complement my dance therapy, so I have begun - easy, all you have to do is be in analysis, which I am, and attend some seminars, Lacan was not so keen on certificates! It's all in the analysis, really.
Well, maybe not easy, because Lacan is difficult to read and I have to do it in the original French (very rusty but I still have it). But psychoanalysis is exciting. So here I am, nearing the end of a course (no, I have not given it up, I always finish what I have started) and immediately embarking on further training. Julia Kristeva is my role model!
Photographer: AlexBPhotography
For some, jouissance comes from possessing things - a beautiful house, a fast car. It does not do it for me. For one thing, when you die you can't take all the possessions with you! And those people who inherit from you are not necessarily happy with the inheritance - a dear friend of mine is going through probate and is cursing every minute of it, to the point he says he would have preferred not to have to inherit "the bloody house". I can see it in my own family. We are still fighting, some of us very unwillingly, over my father's will, 13 years after he died!
I was glad to get some free time this afternoon. To catch up with blogging, my deviantArt groups, and just enjoying being at home, really. I have a shoot tomorrow and a runway show on sunday so I must sleep early.
Will be back soon...

(Photos modelled by Alex B and Dominique)

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

What was it like to be Eva Braun?

Self portrait

Israeli artist Roee Rosen's installation Vile, Evil, Veil - Live and Die as Eva Braun will be shown in a London from 21st March to 5th May at Iniva, in Rivington Place.

In this powerful installation the spectator, through images and texts, is invited to become Eva Braun, Hitler's lover, during the last days of the war "experiencing intimacy with the dictator, his suicide and a short trip to hell".

Says Rosen:

"The demon moves from one surrogate to another and 'belongs' to them all, he is ours. This process of self implication is always on my mind when meddling with the pleasures that art offers (beauty desires fantasies aesthetics) as bound with politics (power, discontent, reality, ethics)".

Powerful words.

Self portrait

When he first presented this installation in Israel in 1997 it caused such a controversy it had to be withdrawn after the Ministry for Education intervened. Now, several years later and in London, what will reactions be?

I will be going to Rivington Place and will try and attend the talk by Rosen scheduled for March 22nd.

Why? What is the pull of this? Why do I want to immerse myself in Eva Braun's personal tragedy and live her last moments, knowing that the object of her devotion was a man who was responsible for the death of thousands of people? And did she care about his politics?

It is that powerful statement by Rosen about self implication that really motivates me. It is also the knowledge that nothing is ever black and white and there were strong emotions involved in Eva's relationship to the Fuhrer.

Who was this woman? Was she really the "vivacious but flighty and not overly intelligent companion with a perverse adoration of the Fuhrer" as described by many? Was there more to her? Twenty years younger than Hitler, she chose to die with him. Angela Lambert wrote in 2008 a sensitive biography of Eva Braun, in which she is revealed as a complex character, in a complex relationship.

There are many women like Eva, who love men that are far from being perfect specimens of humanity. There are among them women who love convicted murderers, 'bad boys' par excellence as Sheila Isenberg discusses in her book Women who love men who kill.

What is it like to be in love with a murderer? Can one really be in love with a murderer? Yes, apparently it is possible and it happens more often than one would think. The women who love murderers are not retarded, impoverished, helpless. They often have some standing, they often work as nurses, teachers, social workers. They may have a background of abuse and loving a murderer may be a way to overcome it. Or they may not. So what is it? Craving for power? Craving for notoriety? Wanting to do something that goes against the norm? Is it but another iteration of that other common instance, women who love men that hurt them?

I am not really sure, I have not fully investigated this matter.

I know that when I go and see Rosen's installation I will have many questions in my hand luggage and a blog post will ensue . Meanwhile I invite you to reflect on some of these issues and if you care to contribute your views I will be most grateful.

(All photos in this post are modelled by Alex B. and were taken by AlexBphotography.)