Tag: photography

Interview with Paula Robles: “Nostalgia has shaped the way I approach aesthetics”

Uncategorized June 5, 2016

There is something magical in the internet, not only it makes us feel less alone but it has the power to connect you with people that you secretly admire and that you wish you had met in your school playground. I’ve been following Paula Robles‘s work for a while. She writes, she styles, she takes photos, and she has something difficult to describe which made me want to know her better. From her images I could deduce she loved fashion and that she had a very peculiar sensibility inspired by the ‘teen universe’ that we find in movies or books. Lately I’ve been interested in the relation between fashion and emotions, how fashion expresses certain emotions, nostalgia in particular. And Paula seemed like a perfect match for my latest concerns. I’m very grateful for her answers. I hope you enjoy them as much as I love this conversation!

Who is Paula Robles?

I studied fashion design at IED Madrid. I knew back then that I didn’t want to be a fashion designer, but I always had been fascinated by costume design and fashion, mainly by seeing it in the movies. Watching films where clothes played a central character made me eager to learn more about the subject. After studying fashion design I also studied some other fashion courses abroad. And I’m currently majoring in philosophy, which may sound odd to some, but I think that the greatest thing about fashion is that it merges with art, consumerism, social issues, and many other things. Philosophy gives you a way to think from different perspectives, and fashion is all about the perspectives.

I work as a freelance fashion stylist and also write about culture and fashion in magazines like Glamour or Vanidad. I run a small publishing company named Pettirosso Press  along with Jorge de Cascante, we publish zines and art books. Right now I’m also starting a personal project that I’m really excited about, but I’m quite supersticious so I’d rather say no more.

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 What kind of emotions do you wish to communicate with your editorial stylings?

I try to create images that go beyond fashion. To achieve this images that exist in your mind, it’s necessary to share a good connection with the photographer. It’s not about showing the latest dress or trend, it’s about telling a story or at least insinuate one, as it happens in the photos of Avedon, Guy Bourdin, Helmut Newton or Corinne Day, the artists who made me fall in love with fashion photography. I like photographs that make you want to know more about the people in them, like wanting to read a whole novel with those characters, photographs that intrigue you. But if someone likes any of my images, that would be enough for me.

What means nostalgia to you?

It’s a feeling that I experienced during my teenage (and pre-teenage) years. I used to think about it as something bad, something that makes you suffer, but now I see it differently, I don’t think it’s bad at all. Somehow, nostalgia has shaped the way I approach aesthetics, it includes memories, stories, far beyond the material world, deep into something much more profound. I work from there, or at least I try, when I deal with the —apparently— superficial field of aesthetics.

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 How did the idea for “Cast a Shadow” came up?

Cast a Shadow came up from the urge that Jorge and I had of collaborating with each other. We feel very comfortable using language and images, and making a zine seemed perfect for that. We choose to make something about plaster casts because I always felt casts were cool when I was little there was always some kid with a cast in his arm or in his leg, but it never happened to me, so I probably developed some weird survivors guilt. Jorge liked the idea, and we made it happen.

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 How does cinema, and particularly certain “teen films”, inspire you?

As I said, cinema had always been a constant source of inspiration for me. Teen films were a revelation when I discovered them. Most people don’t take the genre seriously, but they’re wrong, a teen film can tell any story, the possibilities are endless, you have classics such as Splendor in the Grass, apparently  bland comedies such as Pretty in Pink, or cult little-known movies such as À nos amours, somehow it covers the whole arch. I don’t know the exact reason why I’m fascinated by them, I’ve thought about it many times and I can’t find an exact answer, but I guess it has something to do with nostalgia (again). You see the film, you remember your own teen years, you think about the life you wish you had back then, or just how your life was back in the day. Also, the look and feel of the films tend to be especially original and beautiful.

As a matter of fact, one of the films that most recently made a mark on my mind is La pistola de mi hermano, a spanish flick that can be put in the genre “teen films”. It’s a perfect example of everything I like in those kinds of films: characters and dialogue that makes you think, and a combination of cinematography and music that you don’t easily forget.

 A fictional character that you would like to style

Most of the fictional characters that comes to my mind are from the movies (the main characters of The last days of disco, Geraldine Chaplin in any of her movies with Carlos Saura, Ali McGraw in Love Story, Shirley Knight in The Rain People, Shelley Duvall and Sissy Spacek in 3 Women or Carrie, and Isabelle Adjani in any of her 80’s films, among many many others) and one of the main reasons why I like them so much is because of the costume design of those movies, so I probably should leave that alone.

Years ago, I thought that someone should produce a remake of Clueless with Elle Fanning in the role of Alicia Silverstone; I would have loved to work on that. I also would have liked to dress Rebecca, the ghost character from the Hitchcock film.

Oh! And Esther .

The beauty of an impossible oblivion

Uncategorized January 21, 2016

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There is a negative aesthetic pleasure in the desire of forgetting something or someone you loved. We find beauty in our past memories and pain when we try to remember them, not only because we can’t reach them but because the past was better is the most dangerous motto I can think of. I’m talking about lovers, friends that are no longer friends or almonds and new food allergies.

This is the idea that the photographer and sociologist Diana Barbosa (Portugal, 1983) expresses in her small series “Oblivion always remains”. Diana tries to make beautiful the painful exercise of forgetting while capturing a number of artificial objects with a nostalgic vibe (from a typewriter to a vintage radio). These abandoned elements devoured by nature look as if they could decompose on the ground but we still see a small part of them. That little visible part of the objects resemble the old memories that remain forever with us. Even if we try to hide them or throw them away as if they were wasted objects that we no longer need, they will alway be an important part of us. This inconsistency between the organic and the artificiality works as a metaphor of this unnatural process of a deliberated forgetfulness.These photographs remembers us the complex game of dealing with our past and the necessity of keeping hurtful things far away from our present.

Not only are we what we remember but what we decide not to.

All photographs by Diana Barbosa.

Hay un placer estético negativo en el intento de querer olvidar algo o alguien que quisiste. Lo cierto es que encontramos una mezcla de belleza y dolor cuando echamos la vista atrás y miramos al pasado. No sólo porque no podemos alcanzarlo sino porque el pasado siempre fue mejor creo que es una de las frases más peligrosas que existen. Estoy hablando de olvidar a quien amaste, de los amigos que ya no son amigos, de almendras y nuevas alergias alimenticias.

Esta es la idea que la fotógrafa y socióloga Diana Barbosa (Portugal, 1983) plantea en sus pequeña serie fotográfica bajo el nombre “El olvido siempre permanece“. Diana a través de una serie de objetos artificiales con un toque vintage (desde una máquina de escribir a una radio de aire retro) busca la belleza de ese acto doloroso que es olvidar. Estos elementos abandonados y devorados por la naturaleza parece que en cualquier momento pudieran descomponerse en la tierra. Pero siempre queda un pequeño resquicio de ellos porque incluso si intentamos deshacernos de ellos como si fueran objetos que pertenecieran a la basura y que hemos dejado de necesitar, siempre serán una parte importante de nosotros. Esta tensión entre lo artificial y lo natural funciona como una metáfora de ese proceso poco natural que es el olvido voluntario. Estas fotografías nos recuerdan lo complejo que es el juego de tener que enfrentarnos a nuestro pasado y de la necesidad de mantener aquello que duele alejado de nuestro presente.

Que no somos sólo lo que recordamos sino lo que decidimos olvidar.