Earlier this year, Juergen Teller was due to shoot Rihanna for the latest cover of System magazine, but at the last minute she cancelled due to illness. Undeterred, the photographer and the magazine’s team found inspiration in spontaneity.
“What happens when nothing goes to plan, and you’re sat in a hotel room in Vancouver, delirious with jet lag, waiting for Rihanna to show up?” asks the mag. “When the rain outside is torrential, and the singer’s doctor has ordered her to stay in bed – 2,800 miles away. Do weeks of planning begin to unravel? No. Because who says the meticulous execution of a premeditated idea is the most noble of creative endeavours? There’s creativity in the art of embracing the unexpected.”
With a fascinating shoot location booked – Privateer Holding’s 60,000 square foot medical cannibis facility in Canada – Juergen went ahead, subbing in Brazilian supermodel Raquel Zimmerman, and the mesmerising results usurp any visions of what could have been.
Comically named Waiting for Rihanna, the series contrasts saturated leafy forests, a sparse industrial park and brazen, idiosyncratically Juergen-esque fashion shots. Some are inset within others to heighten the contrast, or placed opposite one another, which also highlights the prismatic range of colour tints across the images. He’s also thrown in a tongue-in-cheek image of him “photographing Rihanna”, although not IRL but a photo of the singer on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar. These make up a bumper 140-page portfolio, or “Juergen Teller supplement”, as he pens, in the issue.
System issue 9 is available now from a few selected stores including Dover Street Market and Colette before its general release on 18 April.