Thursday, August 11, 2011
Vision To Visuals: Audacity!
A multimedia artist who embodies zest for living
|This Article Features Photo Zoom|
Fashion photography and wildlife photography are such distinctly different genres that to imagine the two together in a single frame, one must attempt to reconcile the paradoxical imagery of fashion models in glamorous urban studios against the thrilling scenes of wild beasts in their natural habitats. Any photographer who attempts to merge these two subjects must carry within a certain wildness of the heart that allows him to woo subjects—both human and animal—with a powerful charm. Kristian Schmidt, a Grammy®-nominated music video-director-turned-photographer who also has been called "arguably the funniest photographer on the face of the earth," exercised all his imaginative and charismatic forces to create the spectacular series of fashion and wildlife photographs in his exhibition Audacity, which Duggal helped produce for him at Milk Studios in New York City earlier this summer.
The passion and wildness oozing out of photographs in Audacity are a direct reflection of Schmidt's unique worldview formed from an eclectic childhood. He was born in New York, grew up between Paris and Sweden, then moved to Japan to create music videos and TV shows 15 years ago. Despite being a complete outsider in Japan, Schmidt gained tremendous notoriety for his Grammy®-nominated music videos, films and Japanese comedy shows.
Unlike most photographers who transition from still to motion imagery, Schmidt turned from music videos to still photography, gaining quick ground as a fashion photographer with a flair for the extraordinary. He started traveling frequently to South Africa for his fashion shoots, where he came in close proximity to elephants, leopards and monkeys in the wild. The thrill of crawling up to a lion or the possibility of getting charged by elephants struck a deep chord with Schmidt's wild sensibilities.
He decided to bring his fashion models in close contact with animals in the wild to create a novel body of work for Audacity. Schmidt describes Audacity as "a show inspired by the metaphor of a lioness hunting with no regard for personal safety, with an audacity that shows absolute power to do anything it takes to get its kill." Relating this parallel of audacity in the animal world to the fashion world, he juxtaposes breathtakingly beautiful models with animals in shots that capture an intimate dialogue between the two subjects. Some years ago, a photographer named Gregory Colbert created Ashes and Snow, which showed a similar sensibility in shooting animals and people in spiritual closeness with one another. Inspired by that work, Schmidt blurs the spiritual and physical boundaries between fashion and wildlife, photographing moments that evoke the possibility of peaceful cohabitation between man and animal, and nudges us to reflect upon the need to restore and maintain natural habitats in which these wild beasts flourish.
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