Friday in Amsterdam: Madame Portrait
13 Friday Apr 2012
Last night I went to the Madame Portrait “Characters of My World” exhibition opening at The New Label Project here in Amsterdam. Love, love, love.
Okay…so I love photo exhibitions—especially portraits. Especially portraits of real people. Well, this exhibition is that, with a twist.
We’ve all heard that every photo has a story, and that’s especially true for portraits. Alexandra Feo takes photos and tells the story that goes with each one—but here’s the thing: The stories are all wildly fictitious. And the characters in the photos are all her.
Yes…Alexandra Feo creates characters, puts on awesome makeup and costumes, then photographs herself. The transformation is amazing. You’d never recognize her in these photos. In fact, I chatted with her for a couple of minutes at the opening last night before I realized she was the photographer…and the model.
I love this idea. I love photos, and I love stories, and I love when someone puts them together so well. Her photos are beautifully shot and composed—the light is so soft and natural, but because each picture has a fictitious (and sometimes very peculiar!) character, it just adds that extra layer between the worlds of reality and pretend.
Here’s an example of one of the stories:
Aramis (Tokyo, 2010): Aramis is a clairvoyant and self-proclaimed foremost authority on the occult. She is a personal friend of Count Vladimir Dracule and also an animal lover as you can see. For a few pennies she says, she can read your mind. She also does some consulting work for the FBI, at a slightly higher rate.
The cool thing about art openings is the chance to talk to the artist, and I was lucky to talk to Alexandra last night and find out a little more about her process. The photos are part of a two-year-long project that began when she lived in Tokyo. She’s grown up with a theatrical background—ballet, and opera—and the idea of inhabiting a character for photography isn’t much different than performing on stage. It’s really just a different medium…a different way of playing make-believe.
If you live in or around Amsterdam, please go check out the exhibition—it’s pretty amazing. You can see it at The New Label Project (Rozengracht 75) up until May 3rd, or visit Alexandra’s website at Madame Portrait.com.