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Sneak previews of indies and features, and conversations with the most compelling luminaries in literature, photography and film

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August 21, 2014

Still Lives: Philip Sinden

Portraits and Serendipity from the London Photographer

“I guess this is my way of interpreting my very religious upbringing and turning it back on its head,” says photographer Philip Sinden of his as-yet-untitled new project that continues our three-part spotlight on NOWNESS’ longtime contributors. “I got in touch with life models­, people who are used to being drawn, and instead photographed them on a large 5x4 film format in a studio over two months.” The images are his first dip into nude photography, and are juxtaposed here with baroque interior shots of cathedrals and mosques captured during his travels in Slovenia, Ljubljana and Istanbul. “All photographers use the same equipment to shoot, but we all come up with something different,” says the London-based Wallpaper*, Vogue and Telegraph Magazine contributor. “You interpret life by the way you see things. In some ways, I don’t think you have much control over that.”

Is religious iconography a recurring motif in your work?
Philip Sinden:
I had a religious childhood, so it was something that was around all the time and I shot the nudes in a very loose way that maybe echoed some poses from paintings from Spanish artists. I started photographing interiors of churches with certain particular people in mind from the nude series to put them together.

Are there any greats you tend to reference?
PS:
I did a series of priests so I was looking at El Greco a lot, Velasquez. I like abstract paintings like De Kooning, possibly a bit of Irving Penn. I really like street photographers at the moment like Mark Cohen. I think his loose way of photographing people on the street is really interesting, so that’s something I’ve been looking at a bit more recently.

What do you think of the instant imaging fostered by social media?
PS:
I think it’s great. I’ve never been part of Facebook particularly but Instagram is interesting in the way it makes you look at things again. When you’re shooting photographs all the time, you have a way of working but to suddenly have the freedom to just take pictures of anything. I use a BlackBerry so I then interpreted it onto an iPad. In some ways it gives me time to think but maybe that’s cheating, I don’t know. I think it’s a great way of putting your own work out there as well, just getting instant feedback.

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Spotlight

M/M (Paris) x Vanessa Paradis

The Convention-Defying Design Duo Take Us Behind the Scenes of the Parisian Siren’s New Video

“It’s somewhere between reality and fiction," says Mathias Augustyniak of M/M (Paris) regarding Vanessa Paradis’s “Mi Amor,” the new music video for the elfin singer, model and actress. Augustyniak and Michael Amzalag (the other half of the acclaimed graphic design studio), were first introduced to the French songstress by producer Benjamin Biolay, who worked on Paradis’s new album, Love Songs. Here the pair take us on an illustrative journey of their creative process. “It’s extremely precisely written and mathematically planned, and can ultimately nourish a project," says Augustyniak of the methodology, which includes rendering their signature graphic aesthetic into the multiple storyboards they archive in their studio. Since crossing paths at Paris's Les Arts Décoratifs school, the pair have worked as art directors on innumerable fashion, art and music projects, incorporating typography, print, illustration, photography, film and interior design. Envisioning their commissions as “conversations,” M/M (Paris) previously shot Björk’s acclaimed video for “Hidden Place,” co-directed with Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin. Next up for Augustyniak and Amzalag is a book collection of archives from 2001 paying homage to films, published by Taschen.

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Spotlight

Seduced and Abandoned

Ryan Gosling Gives An Entertaining Insight Into the Perils of the Hollywood Audition

“The movie business is like the worst girlfriend you’ve ever had,” declares Alec Baldwin, the veteran actor and star of James Toback’s documentary Seduced and Abandoned. “You are seduced and abandoned over and over again.” The hard-hitting Hollywood director returns to Cannes, where he triumphed in 2008 with his documentary on Mike Tyson, and puts the mechanics of the film festival itself under his microscope. In the wry meta-film, The Glengarry Glen Ross star and Toback work La Croisette Boulevard like the undoubted pros they are in a determined attempt to secure funding for "Last Tango in Tikrit," a sexually explicit allegory about post-Iraq disillusion in which Baldwin would take the lead. “Alec and I acted in a scene together in Woody Allen's Alice,” says Toback. “Our scene was cut from the final version but the irrational sense of connection I felt with him, both as a screen presence and as a person, lingered after our brief Woody experience.” The duo quickly discovers why Somerset Maugham described the Riviera as “a sunny place for shady people” but the impressive list of auteurs and actors they interview––including Martin Scorsese, Ryan Gosling and Francis Ford Coppola––are disarmingly candid. “It’s a celebration of film, not so much of the industry,” says Toback. “I have learned that the more movies I make, the more impossible it is to get excited by any film which is not filled with surprises, uncertainty and the daily need for invention.”

Seduced and Abandoned is released February 17 on Soda Pictures

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