Polish photographer Madame Peripetie‘s work revolves around the exploration of the boundaries between fashion, sculpture and the human body, merging high-fashion elements with abstract and conceptual ideas, creating an eccentric world of color, texture and patterns.
I had a quick chat with her to poke her brains and learn more about what does it take to create this kind of quirk and surreal photography. Her vision is unique and I have to say I found it to be rather refreshing and could totally understand much of what she mentions regarding her thought process.
How does one go from Applied Linguistics to fashion photography?
Well, it was somehow natural as I always wanted to do something creative. I used to study linguistics (which is actually a very creative field), I was writing and reading a lot but in the end I just wanted to visualize my own ideas and thoughts. I found it fascinating to work with the “surface” – not only 2D but also 3D – sculpture, costumes and interaction between body and space. I found it very challenging combining syntactic and semiotic elements of the language with visual ones and including theater components as light and stage into my photography. By the way, my name comes from “peripety” – a sudden and unexpected change of fortune or reverse of circumstances and the word has its origin in the theater itself.
I use it as my alter-ego, in order to describe something that is bizarre and different from everyday life – a kind of an unexpected surreal performance.
There a clear surrealist undercurrent through all of your work, why?
I was never interested in depicting reality as it is – the escapism and interdisciplinary hybrid-thinking has always been fascinating me. Both saturated colors and dark spaces, fabulous costumes, uncanny characters, quirky stories and unexplainable ideas– these are the elements that keep hypnotizing me whenever I plan a new photographic project. A tiny bit of mysteriousness and abstruseness is very important – if I understand something completely, I’m not interested in it anymore. I used to read lots of books, fairy and horror tales and go to Sc-iFi conventions. I used to be a goth then a new wave fan so I’m a dark soul :) I also love character design. I literally grew up surrounded by work of Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali – it was my way to escape the monochrome and dull reality.
A lot of your work is rather ironic, sometimes even humorous. Is this deliberate, or something just inherent to your own personality?
Fun feeds creativity! I find play instinct of great importance and not taking everything so seriously.
Many say I am a fashion photographer. That’s only partially true – I see myself as a surrealist who combines sculptural elements and garments with human body. It is the play instintct of “homo ludens” that is fascinating me not what dress is trendy next season. Fashion is very exhangable – today something is “in” tomorrow is already “out”. I see my work as a kind of sculpture/painting that’s not obeying any rules, doesn’t meet any boring standards.
How do you nail the concept behind each one of your shoots?
It can be a book, a film, a song, a sculpture or just a small thing i see somewhere that can trigger my ideas. I can’t really tell you… I also keep having VERY vivid and surreal dreams!
Do you plan or storyboard your shoots, or is it more a spur of the moment kind of thing?
It all depends on the project. It starts wit an idea and develops over a certain amount of time. It’s always well planned but i like spointaneity on set as well.
What about the clothing and makeup featured, do you make a point of making clear conceptual choices or do you leave it mostly to the makeup/styling folks?
I mostly have full control over the styling when I’m doing my personal projects. I have an idea in my head and i want to develop and realize it the way I imagine it to be. But I’m open to creative cooperation.
What inspires you? Who are your favorite photographers/artists?
I just adore the avantgarde theater of Robert Wilson – his sophisticated, refined light, architecture of space and visionary thinking – but also the disturbing “Cremaster” worlds of Matthew Barney, that seem ingeniously complicated or nonsensical, influenced me a lot.
My inspirations build an artistic magpie – they come mainly from surrealism and Dada (Dali, Magritte and Buñuel) – their unexpected and unusual juxtapositions and non sequitur, from childhood memories (all the B-Movies from the 80s!) and dreams inaccessible to waking life, comic books, old video games but also from newspapers, pop-culture, new wave / post-punk music and Sci-Fi literature of the 60s ( I used to be a real nerd when it comes to Sci-Fi).
I’m fascinated with the work of Chan-Wook Park, David Lynch and Tim Burton (early work only). There are many directors that influenced me a lot. I surf at ubu web very often, a sort of a large web-based educational resource for avantgarde, conceptual material like movies, poetry and sound art mp3 archives. It’s very inspiring.
What fashion designers’ work would you like to shoot?
Well these who are not afraid to follow their own path and work with their own vision. If you think differently and try to create something new or uncanny it’s always pretty rough. But rough is much more interesting and challenging than dull and nice. Don’t you think?
See more of her work at her site, here.