Cary Fukunaga Directs an East African Love Story For the Luxury Label Maiyet
Unpublished Early Works of the Iconic Fashion Photographer Who Discovered Kate Moss
Shots of a young Kate Moss, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and travels through Borneo commemorate the poignant life and work of late photographer Corinne Day, being honored in a retrospective at Gimpel Fils gallery in September and an accompanying monograph Heaven is Real from Morel Books. The former model began shooting for The Face in the early 90s and it was her iconic pictures of a fresh-faced, unknown 14-year-old schoolgirl that launched her muse into superstardom—Day was the first photographer to shoot Moss as a Vogue cover girl. Often vilified by the tabloid culture of the time, Day's documentary approach and candid attempts at capturing innocence and the sometimes ugly realities of her world transformed fashion photography forever and opened the floodgates for subsequent generations of camera-wielding provocateurs. We invited leading curator Charlotte Cotton and celebrated art director Phil Bicker, who first commissioned Day to shoot for The Face, to discuss her formidable legacy.
Phil Bicker: Everybody thinks Corinne's work is very simplistic—that it just documents things that happen and that she was great at capturing the moment, but the reality is that everything is orchestrated, repeated, constructed. There’s a lot of contradiction about Corinne and her work, and the one thing that did her the greatest disservice was that she tried to claim them as moments. She could have been seen more as an artist rather than a fashion photographer.
Charlotte Cotton: I like the fact she never produced a particularly clichéd feminine version of photography. Her work has got deep emotional intelligence and sophistication, but it’s not a particularly responsible or maternal camera.
PB: It was about being ‘real’ and not having to push and promote brands for advertisers—being able to take pictures that were primarily about the people in them. She became associated with the term "heroin chic" but that was something made up by the tabloids. Everyone thinks of Corinne as an urban photographer, but she was a suburban photographer. It was much more about innocence than drugs. When you look at her pictures of Kate, there’s a sense of naivety.
CC: Corinne found her alter ego in Kate, is that right?
PB: Basically, Kate was Corinne—she was the perfect muse. Corinne had been a model and she saw herself in Kate. She worked with Kate to realize things she hadn't realized about herself, and molded Kate into something that was actually a reflection of her. In those early days with Kate, the pictures were almost like the days of innocence—in a way it became a lot more contrived later on. The early pictures are the best.
CC: One of the things that comes out of the book and the show next month is the sense that her signature, in an abstract sense, was there from the beginning. Even if she was asking a model to simulate something, it was about simulating something real.
Brasilia: Oscar Niemeyer's Magnum Opus
Fifty years ago this April, Brazil’s capital, Brasilia, was built from scratch on an empty patch of savannah 500 miles from the coast. The bold, utopian city was envisioned by Rio-born architect Oscar Niemeyer, who has completed over 700 projects in his lifetime and, at 102 years old, continues to work and sketch from his glass penthouse on Copacabana beach. Many of Brasilia's buildings were rendered in concrete, a flexible material that allowed Niemeyer (famously averse to right angles) to create some truly breathtaking, curvaceous shapes, designed to appear as if floating above the ground. The modernist metropolis––now listed as a world UNESCO heritage site––was built in just four years. Niemeyer worked alongside urban planner Lucio Costa, imagining everything from the taxi cabs to the aesthetic of the bus driver’s uniforms. Even the city's shape as viewed from an airplane was taken into consideration—seen from above it resembles a bird spreading its wings across the scorching expanses of the country. These awe-inspiring photographs of the city were taken by Edgar Choueiri, chief scientist and director at Princeton University’s Electric Propulsion and Plasma Dynamics Lab, who was immediately enchanted by Brasilia upon arriving to deliver a talk at its University. Choueiri’s connection to Niemeyer runs deep––he grew up in Tripoli, Lebanon, where Niemeyer’s unfinished structures for the Rachid Karami World Fair have been standing since the 60s. For him, Niemeyer's perfect city represented his childhood dreams of space travel and colonization: "It was almost emotional for me to see his vision in Brasilia. The photographs were a sort of tribute to that connection."