“What I love most about fashion is its power — as costume — to signify elements of someone’s life,” photographer Andrea Artemisio tells It’s Nice That. His photography work, though, isn’t as straightforward as model dress-up and point-and-shoot. Andrea creates imagery that makes the viewer feel slightly off-kilter, and fully immersed in a kind of alternative reality.
“Fashion to me has always been a means, not an end,” says Andrea. “I’ve always used clothes to speak of something. This approach, I feel, gives the possibility of looking at wider topics than fashion alone.” Though naturally he prefers to shoot personal projects, Andrea sees both editorial and commercial shoots as a means to explore the natural boundaries of photography and to push its potentials in various situations. Andrea’s work always goes that extra step into the surreal, or hyper-real, that other photographers might shy away from.
“I take inspiration from many different sources," he explains. "Visually, the starting point has been my passion for hyper-real sculptures (particularly Duane Hanson and Ron Mueck) that I’ve tried to reinterpret photographically. Other sources are characters and the acting in Kaurismäki’s films, together with the choice of colours of Kim Ki-duk, among many other examples. While more conceptually, I tend to reference everyday life encounters and gestures of people I have met throughout my life,” he says.
“In one of my previous projects I selected clothes after researching the story of Stasi secret agents, which of course speak of political events. In another story I reproduced the characters from Wim Wenders films while in a previous one I played with clothes and nudity to investigate affective issues linked to members of my family. I often start with an idea and later combine all elements in an artisanal way, in the sense that it’s a long process of research and improvement as I work on every stage of it,” Andrea tells us.
Not the characters of your typical magazine editorial, one of his latest shoots featured The Simpsons. "The director of Alla Carta, Yara, said: “Andrea, I would like you to photograph a celebrity, someone famous”.” Andrea tells us. “I thought I would have liked someone so famous they were almost out of reach. Then I thought of the Simpson’s family: highly recognisable yet non-human; ultra pop – possibly the most pop characters I have worked with – and affordable VIPs to have on set.”
In contrast, though still true to his out of this world, hyper-real elements, Andrea shot an editorial No Man Is An Island for It’s Nice That favourite, Buffalo Zine. “I portrayed ten friends on the same day and it was a very happy/chaotic day for me! Usually my time on set is very quiet.”
As for what character-filled scenario he’ll create next? “Well!” Laughs Andreas. “For the first time I am shooting a place alone for my next project, rather than a person,” he explains. It will be a new approach for the photographer, and one we can’t wait to lock our eyes onto.