Desire unchained. Drawn to one another. Heads of dolls collapse in intimacy. Teases of flesh part organic. Short, cropped fringes masquerade as head pieces. Colour enters the underground. Orange, red, and blue. Latex, vinyl boots. The private becomes public.
“Tucked under a Zurich underground this photo series tells the story of three cyborg dolls lost in a world where all living beings are prisoners of desire. In a place where plastic seems to be the gateway to immortality, these three dolls are perpetually called upon to reconfigure themselves. The ‘ready-made subjects’ strive to characterise the image of an eternal civilisation, where pleasure depends almost entirely on their capacity to reconstruct their private life publicly. Guns may not exist in this world, but injuries are real. Facts become fiction, and fiction becomes facts.” – states photographer James Bantone and stylist Min Kim about ‘Da Da Da’.
James’ work is known for taking up space in super-real universes addressing questions around cultural and sexual identity. Drenched in alienation his models embody static poses, body parts altered, the figures become avatars transformed in performance. The Swiss photographer located in Zurich, worked towards a BA in photography (ECAL – École Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne), and later went on to assist Daniel Sannwald in London working on the album cover for Kelela’s ‘Take Me Apart’. At present, he is studying towards a fine art degree at ZHdK (Zurcher Hochschule der Kunst). James’ approach is one that needs to be skinned through investigation taking into account its various complex layers. Not a fashion photographer, James instead uses the tropes of fashion as a stylistic device with which he creates work that falls under the realm of fine art. Then, using fashion to speak about complex human contemplations and concerns which is spoken through with the creation of unreal-realities.
As I will always come back to, photography -fashion photography in particular as well as editorials- or the simulation of such, will always remain a game of surreal representation yet James’ practice scratches on the intersection of reality and surreality as he discusses what is real through the unreal.
Teaming up with Min Kim as the stylist of this series elevates it to its stature as a body of work that does not quite fall into fashion editorial but simultaneously makes use of the power of creative styling to convey its message. The Central Saint Martins fashion graduate from Seoul, South Korea practices as a freelance stylist on editorial and advertising commissions. Graduating from CSM with her collection, ‘The Confessions Of A Weekend Drinker’, Min continues the convention of unconventionality and styles and art directs her visual narrative and aesthetic.
A powerful collaboration exists between these two creatives, one more drawn towards the arts and the other working within the world of fashion. It is an interesting symbiosis that invites you to the land where private life is performed publicly with styling reminiscent of early 2000’s womxn’s biker groups or that of a strange Tarantino dream stripped bare and spoken from an underground world in Zurich. Riveting -Plastic lives on.
Photographer: James Bantone
Stylist: Min Kim
Hair & Make-Up: Mänz Marc Moser
Choreography: Nils Amadeus Lange
Assistant: Mohamed Al-Musibli