From Night of the Living Dead to When a Stranger Calls, a large, eerie house with a number of intruder-friendly hiding places is top of my list of possible nightmare scenarios. I was therefore intrigued when I discovered that Moo-Tang’s latest photography series transforms this unwelcome dream into an elegant and visually impeccable tale. A young, fashionable woman alone in her stately manor goes about her daily activities — lifting weights, swimming and eating pizza — blissfully unaware of the unnerving, ominous figures that on occasion appear behind her.
Moos-Tang are a Swiss-French photography duo comprised of Nicolas Haeni and Thomas Rousset, who met while studying photography at ECAL. It was during this time that Nicolas and Thomas realised that their personalities were complimentary and proceeded to collaborate on multiple projects together after graduating. “Our creative process is an endless ping-pong game of ideas, both dynamic and exciting. Surprisingly, Thomas — the French half — lives in Lausanne, Switzerland, and Nicolas — the Swiss half — in Paris. This means there is constant movement between these two cities,” Moos-Tang tell It’s Nice That. Over the past few years, the duo has worked on a wide range of projects, from commercials to editorial work to videos.
The duo’s expertly shot, uncanny series was commissioned by the luxury French magazine L’Express Dix in order to create a visual narrative about a rich girl in a big house trying to kill time. Through atypical arrangements and lavish stylisation, Moos-Tang manage to evoke a permanent sense of unease and create a story that leaves the viewer with a curious anticipation. “We took our time when it came to finding the right house. We felt very lucky when we discovered this strange location with opulent decoration and decadent furniture. This weirdness matched exactly what we were looking for. We casted Celine because she has this elegant but unusual beauty that fits the story we were trying to tell,” Nicolas and Thomas explain. The backdrop can be perceived as the series’ second protagonist. With its vibrant large-scale frescos and imposing marble surfaces, the palatial estate is equally responsible for the compelling atmosphere as Celine is.
Yet despite the series’ dark colours, strange characters and unconventional angles, Moos-Tang never intended to reference horror. “It’s funny because we never meant to refer to Halloween. Having said that, there is definitely a feeling of strangeness which emanates from this story. It’s probably the combination of the house, the model, the styling and the way we staged the shots that conveys this singular atmosphere.”
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