Surface 1998

"The Hollywood star-making machine is hungry and eats its old. That's why there is retouching. Realism is a fantasy. Every time a camera is pointed in a particular direction or a light is placed-manipulation begins. That's why "pure" images don't really exist.

In music we have "sampling": one must pay for the right to appropriate from an existing song. In photography you can copy an image verbatim and the originator gets zero (if Nan Goldin or Larry Clark had a nickel for every time someoneā€¦)

Recently, I saw an anchorwoman on TV with bleached-out fuzz, obvious cosmetic surgery and capped teeth make a condescending remark about fashion being trite and superficial after a segment about the Paris shows. Artistry, craftsmanship, beauty and entertainment are important in all cultures, any National Geographic will attest to that. Fashion encompasses all of these things. Is it more profound to be an investment banker? How twisted that we consider an accumulation of money somehow meaningful. I find people whose existence is monetarily centered, whose goals and focus are on getting rich, loathsome and banal. I'd rather spend my time with people who are obsessed with creation and beauty-they laugh more. I'd rather spend my time with a shoe designer.

I remember clearly being in junior high school and nothing making sense. I didn't fit in. I had no place. I dreamt of one day being an artist.

Three days ago: It was 6 am, we were in a cold, abandoned mental institution outside of London completing a fashion shoot with Isabella Blow for a British mag. The crew's energy was so great after 20-something hours straight of shooting. Kristen (my set designer) was dumping a mountain of spaghetti into a blood-red bathtub in a blood-red room. Devan (a 15-year-old model) walked in with a diamond-encrusted lobster on her neck. She was wearing shoes too-and not much else. She was handed a giant fork and spoon. Kristen exclaimed: "Oh, I get it, the red room is the sauce!" Then Sophie Dahl, the Zaftig It-Girl of the London scene, walked in completely naked, and as she slid into the pasta tub she began laughing, along with the entire crew. If someone-right then-had stumbled upon us, they would have thought we were insane. But looking around that room at that moment, to me, somehow it all made perfect sense. We live in a time where there is a national obsession with food and sex, and this is reflected in my work.

A blank page in a magazine is the possibility for anything to happen and to be seen by thousands of people. Why make something that's been seen before? I never want to take the same photo twice. Why settle for average when you can make fantastic?

I don't have business hours. I have a life where a separation between pleasure and work does not exist. It's a blessing to do what you lave and a gift to love who you do it with."

Text By David LaChapelle

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