This article originally appeared in the print edition of RAIN magazine in spring 2017.
Interview by Joel Mojica. Photography by Claudia Revidat
WE ARE LIVINGIN A WORLD RULED BY SOCIAL NETWORKS AND INSTANT MESSAGING. WE ARE FORGETTING THE REAL PURPOSE OF LIFE
Claudia Revidat is an artist concerned with the loss of human connection in our digital society. Her work intends to remind us of the (simple) pleasures in our own intrinsic existence. We caught up with her to talk about the importance of being and life without the internet.
JOEL MOJICA: What projects are you working on at the moment?
CLAUDIA REVIDAT: I’m currently working on two personal projects – Youth of Land and Unknown Pleasure.
JM: Your upcoming book Youth of Mongolia will be released soon—can you tell me about the project?
CR: Youth of Mongolia is the first chapter of a broader series called Youth of Land, started one year ago. The rationale of this project is to discover the youth on earth, far beyond the limits of the digital world.
We are living in a world ruled by social networks and instant messaging, with hundreds of daily, meaningless digital interactions. We are thus forgetting the real purpose of life. I wanted to go and discover the youth in all corners of the earth. My only goal was to create a book that would witness daily life at the heart of the communities of young people.
The first chapter is dedicated to my first trip of a long series. For me, Mongolia was a real immersion in their world, isolated from the outer modern world.
JM: In a society like today’s, where FOMO—fear of missing out—and internet addiction have become issues IRL, what was it like living without the internet? Do you spend a lot of time online?
CR: In the Mongolian countryside, there is no internet or mobile network.
To begin with, it is very disturbing but, after a few days of immersion, the intensity of the pure, human and highly valuable moments you are living makes you forget the modern world actually exists.
Today, I still try to disconnect myself from social networks in order to meditate into my inner soul or read a book.
JM: Did your decision to pursue this project come from a personal desire to disconnect from the modern world?
CR: Yes, my will was to discover my siblings in other countries in order to see how they nurture their happiness. It was like having a time machine and seeing what it
was like to live in France in the ’60s. We are now living
in dangerous and depressed societies, whereas, in Mongolia, everything is still peace, calm and happiness.
JM: Some artists argue that a certain degree of isolation is necessary in order to create—do you agree with this philosophy?
CR: I am indeed very solitary and I need to be surrounded with silence in order to unleash my creativity.
JM: You’ve talked about the importance of human relationships and the simple pleasure of being. The images for this project seem to have what could be described as a “human” quality—something that is not prevalent in fashion photography. Do you consider this to be a part of your sensibility as an artist and image maker?
CR: True, human relationships are key to our happiness and, in our digital world, we have forgotten the basics of life. We have allowed too much exposure to sophisticated but fake feelings. Being a fashion photographer does not diminish or dispel my deep humanity and my addiction to true human feelings.
JM: You are attracted to authenticity—has it been challenging to work in fashion considering your sensibility? Do you approach your personal work and your fashion work in the same way?
In the Mongolian countryside, there is no internet or mobile network. To begin with, it is disturbing but, after a few days, the intensity of the pure, human and highly valuable moments you are living makes you forget the modern world exists. Today, I still try to disconnect from social networks in order to meditate into my inner soul
CR: I always leverage my emotional skills in my interactions with models. Humanity is the key to everything you approach—in business as in daily life. That’s the way I see the world.
JM: Can you tell me about your project Youth of Cuba? What was it like working on this project? Is there a connection between this project and Youth of Mongolia?
CR: My work in Cuba is also part of my project Youth of Land and is its second chapter. The purpose of it is still all about the common features in the youth across the world.
JM: Both these projects can be considered documentary— photography that is characterized by “truthful” imagery and a highly ethical approach to image making. What were some of your concerns while working with your subjects?
CR: I was concerned they might not be able to behave naturally in front of the camera. Hopefully, this didn’t happen and their gestures, smiles, and attitudes were purely intense and natural.
JM: On the one hand you have your personal work, which translates a certain reality. On the other, your work in fashion, in essence, is meant to sell a certain image or fantasy, even. As an artist, do you struggle with these extremes? How do you balance your personal work and your fashion work?
CR: I always try to interpret the scenes I capture with a great sense of integrity. Whether it’s fashion or reality, I envision things as natural feelings. Emotions must always be true and sincere if we want them to move people and to be efficient.
JM: Tell me about your exhibit Unknown Pleasure.
CR: Unknown Pleasure is again all about sincerity. The goal was to show the true nature of the human body by focusing on deeper details. The special treatment given to the imagery gives an interesting poetic soul to the human body.
Unknown Pleasure, April 21; Galerie Nivet Carzon, Paris