The Zebra Nude Experience by Nikosono31 May 2017, Posted by Art in
THE ZEBRA NUDE EXPERIENCE BY NIKOSONO
Over a major part of my life spent in France, I have built up my portfolio with black and white analog photos printed into a dark room. Once, I have been an assistant at the Rapho Agency, Paris (home of famed photographers Doisneau, Ronis and Boubat). Then I moved to Australia a decade ago. I have received an extensive list of accolades. My photo series “Australian Biotope” has been exhibited during the Photo LA 2016, at Art Basel 2015 (Switzerland). It has been published in the magazines “PHOTO”, “The Eye of Photography” and “Profession Photographe”. My conceptual work on abstract aerial views of the Australian environment has been featured in exhibitions in Tokyo and at the Kanazawa Museum of Contemporary Art in Japan; but also in UK, France and Italy. I have now sought to innovate across a project like “The Zebra Nude Experience” in photography using natural lights, stripes and bodyscapes.
I have produced “The Zebra Nude Experience” photo series at home since 2012. This photo concept is probably the most “organic” one I have ever built, due to its deep relation to the weather and time of the day.Looking closely at what I have developed through my abstract aerials of Australia – and now the Zebra Nude Experience series – I realized how the natural elements are crucial in the final results. During Winter (which lasts between June and August in Western Australia), I had very short time-spans (between 7 and 8am, and later in the day between 1 and 3pm) in order to get the right amount of sun in my house.In Summer (late November till Mid-April), the scenario is a bit different. I have not found a model (except myself) who was keen enough to do some shoots at 6 in the morning. So I had to improvise and think hard. I found a solution in creating an outdoor “zebra” kit which allows me to shoot between 1pm and 4pm, without having to move from my backyard. Overall, I really cherish and enjoy this way to do photography: keeping an eye on weather forecasts, seasons, positions of the sun. It really emphasizes the connection I feel with the natural environment around me. It has actually surprised more than one model who collaborated with me. They discovered I was not using a proper studio with artificial lights… and sometimes even using film cameras during the Zebra sessions.
It would be very hard to describe the images with one philosophical statement. One main reason is that the Zebra series features a mix of figurative and abstract depictions. So it wouldn’t be nice to give away all the background thoughts before the viewers had their own “moment”. They had some time to appreciate what they are looking at. Especially the abstracts ones. I try to keep my own interpretation away from what could “see” the viewers into my Art. There is something almost “orgasmic” when someone tells me “I really like your photo but I don’t know whats depicted in this photo”. I like that feeling very much myself: when I have been set out on a philosophical or/and emotional journey by a nice music track or a good movie. I got the magic, I don’t necessary need to know how the special effects were done or what was the process to create a song. But the surprise comes from the viewers themselves. They can see things I haven’t seen myself. Once, someone from the audience told me the shadows stripes over the bodies of the models looked like I tried to compose a fetishist image ( with bodies wrapped by virtual “ropes). At the risk of obscuring the meaning of my images under a layer of “arty” jargon), some personal values are linked to all the zebras:- the acceptance of our own bodies regardless of the age, the gender or the colour of skin- the power of nature when light draws an unlimited amount of layers and shapes over our natural shell, without us being able to control it.
Some people are surprised to know I was a DJ before all this; composing electronica tracks on records featuring artists like Phoenix or M83. This love for all types of music is still very much alive. Without trying to influence the atmosphere of each Zebra images I’m posting online, I like to add mini playlists of songs we played during the photo sessions. In regards to the models, I don’t really choose them. We choose each others. It is helping to keep the collaborative process human. Some of them have very unique personal life stories that makes me wake up in the morning and think: “Today, I will help empower someone on different levels”. In the most recent chapters of the Zebra nude Experience series, one model has been a victim of domestic violence for years and starts her life again almost from scratch. Another one plays for the Australia women’s national volleyball team.
I have started to create the base of my concept a long time ago. I was 15, I used to shoot with a Nikon FA and a small Ricoh FF-1, and some Ilford and Kodak films. Shot in my bedroom, I was collecting few blank slides prior to the shoot. Positive slides that I was covering of primitive graphics with a permanent marker. Then, I made sure the room was pitch black to project the slides through an old projector on my friends’faces, then finally shoot the projected random stripes. I was (and still is) a big fan of Anton Corbijn style at the time. The recent leg of the Zebra concept story only re-emerged when I started to play with my iPhone under the morning sun. I was also going through a period I realized on how inspirational the works of Werner Bischof, Ralph Gibson and Lucien Clergue were to me. It helped me a lot developing my own way to make pictures.
About the Artist: