There are songs that reverberate throughout our entire lives. Despite the passage of time, they will never grow old and indeed they will sound as perfect as they did on first listen – after all, is it not true that “life without music would be a mistake”?
Obsessed with, to use his own words, “the notion of how deeply a pop song can resonate”, Androxx – a New York based visual artist with a background as a dj and musician – has embarked on a project that intelligently combines music and photography. With the help of some of the world’s most beautiful faces and bodies – among others, Sebastian Sauve – and inspired by some of the greatest songs of all time, Androxx is bursting onto the scene with a series of highly sensual and thought-provoking shots – the first of which, I’ll Be Your Mirror, will be released on September 17th.
1883 caught up with Androxx to find out more about his ongoing project.
A few questions to break the ice; when did you first realise you wanted to be an artist?
I was born in southern California, which, to a kid, was like a candy-coloured playground in the ‘70s. As an adult, I see it as an artificial place, but at the time, it was great. When I was 10, my dad suddenly packed my mom and me up and moved us to the Midwest, which felt bleak by comparison. I took refuge in books and magazines and that’s when I discovered pop art and illustration art. I’d spend hours at the mall bookstore poring over books on Warhol and Lichtenstein. And I have a very vivid memory of finding and buying a box of ‘60s magazines at a garage sale, including some Esquires with George Lois-designed covers, which blew me away. That’s the first time I remember thinking, “I want to do this. I want to make pictures that have an impact in the same way these do.” And music was really, really important. When new wave hit the States in the early ‘80s, it felt like salvation.
What’s your earliest memory of art making?
Well, I took pictures as often as I could as a kid, but of course in the pre-digital days it was expensive to purchase and develop film. But I would still find extra money to shoot interesting-looking friends – placing lamps around the room to simulate some kind of lighting. It was all pretty silly. But a step, I guess. In high school, I remember becoming aware of Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger and took my first stab at incorporating text with photos for a class project. Mercifully, those have not survived.
Who are your favourite artists at the moment?
John Currin is right up there. People either love or hate his work. I think it’s amazing. I’m kind of fascinated by Mickalene Thomas. There’s something very fresh in what she’s doing. And the newfound appreciation of Yayoi Kusama is heartening.
Tell us something more about your current project; how did the idea come about?
I really became fixated on the notion of how deeply a pop song can resonate. And how it can be a constant throughout one’s life. That perfect track from 1984 or 1992 or last year will always stay the same. You will change. You will get older. But that song won’t. And it will remain perfect. I knew I wanted to do a series that related to this. And I wanted the pieces to be thought-provoking, erotically-charged and have a sense of humor. With that goal in mind, I began experimenting with adding text to large-scale photographic images of models. I finally landed on the idea of a chalkboard. It dovetailed with the idea of lyrics and words being presented as lessons that stay with you for life. That’s when the concept gelled.
Music evidently plays a crucial role in your work; what drives the choice of the tracks?
I know music is important to most sane people, but to me it verges on obsession. I was in a band in the ‘90s, I’ve DJed a lot and I’m always excited to hear a new sound… or discover a great vintage song that’s new to me. And even before I actually started shooting this series, when a certain lyric would come out of my speakers, I’d “see” an image or have a concept. With most of the pieces, I already had the song lyric – or occasional book passage – in mind. But with a few of them, the photo dictated the text. Either way, it’s a process that occurs after the actual shoot. Sometimes it falls into place quickly, but some pieces took a long time to get exactly right. And you definitely need to see the large-scale images to get the full impact.
The first piece – I’ll Be Your Mirror – features one of the most sought after models at the moment, Sebastian Sauve; how was working with Seb?
Amazing. He was more than just a model or a typical subject. He’s like an actor. He literally turned into about ten different people while we were working together and that quality helped to make some amazing images. Seb’s also witty and wise – there’s a lot more going on there than good genes.
As a last question, what’s next for you?
I’m continuing to work on this series and plan to have a gallery show next spring. I’ll be releasing one or two more pieces through the site (Androxx.com) in 2012. We’re also looking into the possibility of a book, though finding the right format for these large images poses a challenge.
I’ll Be Your Mirror will be released on September 17th – edition of 25 signed, numbered prints.
Further information can be found here.
Words by Jacopo Nuvolari
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