September 25, 2023

Owl Puss

Find Yourself

A Q&A with Ellen Von Unwerth exhibition curator Rafael Gomes

Ellen von Unwerth “This Side of Paradise” put in at SCAD FASH. Photos courtesy of SCAD FASH.

SCAD FASH provides Ellen von Unwerth: This Aspect of Paradise, a celebration of photography that exemplifies raucous debauchery, feminine empowerment, and unbridled sensuality.

Ellen von Unwerth, initially from Frankfurt, Germany, invested her early lifestyle getting shuffled in between foster households in Bavaria. Finally she was able to graduate from high college in Munich, wherever she then worked as a circus magician’s assistant for three a long time.

A single working day, von Unwerth was strolling down the road when a photographer asker her if she had at any time thought of modeling. She resolved to give it a test and moved to Paris. Though she located success as a design, she did not the lack of regulate she experienced around wherever and how her imagery was utilized, and in time shifted to a job guiding the lens.

Ellen von Unwerth photographed by Steffen Kugler for Opel Mobile. Delivered by SCAD FASH.

In her photography, von Unwerth attracts inspiration from her activities as a design to generate stunning and glamorous portraits. Her pictures can be explained as “playfully erotic,” with recurring themes of the female gaze, strength, and sensuality present in her do the job.

All over the yrs von Unwerth has designed a identify for herself as a vogue and editorial photographer and director. She has received notoriety for contributions to advertising and marketing strategies for makes which includes Chanel, Dior, Miu Miu, Azzedine Alaïa, Agent Provocateur, Guess, Jimmy Choo, Ferragamo, and Absolut. 

Musicians this kind of as Duran Duran, Janet Jackson, Christina Aguilera, Brittany Spears, and Rihanna have all featured von Unwerth’s images on their albums. Her portraits have also appeared in the pages of Vogue, i-D, Interview, Elle, Vainness Good, Glamour, and Playboy.

Von Unwerth’s recognition involves to start with prize at the Worldwide Pageant of Vogue Pictures in 1991, a LUCIE Award for Style Photography in 2019, a Royal Photographic Modern society Award in 2020, and an Legendary Photographer Influencer Award in 2021.

I not long ago experienced the likelihood to converse with Rafael Gomes, Curator and Imaginative Director of SCAD FASH, about why it is so vital to showcase von Unwerth’s unbelievable body of function.

Hello Rafael! Thanks for taking the time to focus on This Side of Paradise.

This is the 1st time I have read of a person transitioning from modeling to currently being at the rear of the digicam, is it as unusual of a route as it would seem to be?

Rafael Gomes: It’s not especially unusual. Quite a few designs transition to roles guiding the scenes, stepping into creation positions or shooting as photographers like Ellen von Unwerth or Lee Miller. They’re transitioning from becoming front-and- centre and embracing a job at the rear of the lens that presents them a perception of creative flexibility. What’s outstanding about Ellen is how thriving she was in making this transition. Her photography vocation has completely surpassed her time as a design so considerably so that persons are stunned to hear about her previous.

How did you first master of Ellen von Unwerth?

Gomes: I initially arrived across Ellen von Unwerth’s function when I was still residing in Brazil. The 1989 Guess Marketing campaign starring Claudia Schiffer had just appear out and built a throughout the world effects that place each Ellen and Claudia on the map. I started to acknowledge her function on album handles, as well. She’s shot about almost 200 and worked with extraordinary musicians and pop stars like Beyoncé, Rihanna, Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, Gap, and Duran Duran to make legendary album handles. 

How do you think her background as a product informs her photography tactics? 

Ellen von Unwerth “This Side of Paradise” at SCAD FASH. Photograph courtesy of SCAD FASH.

Gomes: Ellen’s previous experience provides a dynamic harmony to her work. As a photographer, she can picture her closing eyesight. But with her knowledge in modeling, she can converse what she needs from her types to realize it. It’s an all-encompassing being familiar with of the artistic method, from posing to lighting to composition. She’s been on both equally sides of the lens, which definitely demonstrates up in her do the job.

Outside of those people specialized rewards of her history, Ellen’s earlier influences the established and how she interacts with her designs. Rejecting her expertise of remaining instructed how to smile or what to do as a model, she encourages her models to feel empowered and to act with spontaneity on set.

Would you characterize her photography occupation as being an “exemplification of the feminine gaze”?

Gomes: I absolutely would. As I outlined ahead of, Ellen results in an on-established natural environment where types are absolutely free to express them selves. And that expression is what Ellen is intrigued in capturing in her do the job. Her photos all have a wonderful, theatrical sense of perform and sensuality. It’s all in support to her largely woman subjects and viewers. She’s capturing ladies who sense in manage with curated sets and saturated shades, developing a fantasy entire world whole of glamorous but potent gals. There’s an air of rebel.

Can you explain to me about the course of action to decide on and curate this exhibition – I’m confident there are much more photographs than what is on show at SCAD FASH, so what was your conditions when picking the images in this exhibition?

Gomes: The plan of celebrating everyday living was the guiding gentle of the curation process. Like 100 decades in advance of, there’s electrical power toward contentment and enjoyment again immediately after a dim period of time we have long gone via as a collective. Following the devastation of WWI, the 1920s were a decade rich with individuals living their lives to the fullest, expressing themselves by way of artwork, songs, architecture and outfits. We’re making an attempt to emulate that feeling of joie de vivre with these images and remind everyone that there is joy in lifetime. Ellen is an artist with 4 decades of images and shorter movies that definitely represent the zest for lifestyle, glamour, and self-expression.

What is specific about Ellen von Unwerh’s photography? What does it lead to the SCAD FASH museum knowledge? 

Gomes: One detail I imagine that’s vital to emphasize is that Ellen von Unwerth: This Side of Paradise was a really deliberate option to showcase a female artist with self-confidence and self-assuredness at her main.

As an arts college, it’s critical for SCAD to current artists with a effective concept to educate and encourage our pupils and guests. This exhibition is extremely impressive to many of our pupils in relevant diploma programs such as images, vogue style, film and television, advertising and branding, but serves as an inspiration for all SCAD students in the worth of having your very own style and accomplishing factors your have way. The art exhibited also hints at the diversity of her system of function.

You are going to obtain editorial shots, strategies, and album covers alongside Ellen’s short films. She also has a multitude of subjects from cabaret stars to drag queens to pop princesses. For pupils and people alike, there’s a lesson in boldly expressing you and your interests by way of artwork.

Ellen von Unwerth: This Side of Paradise will be on display screen at SCAD FASH as a result of Jan. 8, 2024.