|The Other Woman, 2010: Keren Moscovitch|
Her work investigates intimacy and relationships, and the ways in which the sexual and the spiritual intersect. Keren regularly collaborates with other artists to dissect the ways that relationships are built, and identity is formed.
Keren's monograph, Me Into You, was published in the summer of 2012 in which she chronicled her experiences in an open relationship. Not only that, her work was recently highlighted on playboy.com!
Who else should have been working on an iskm submission on Feb 14!?!
iskm: How did you come to be featured on playboy.com?
KM (Keren Moscovitch not Kate Moss): One of Playboy's newest editors saw my work and contacted me to set up an interview. I was surprised! For a moment I was, as you say, conflicted.
iskm: I have heard two contrasting viewpoints as to Playboy's role in society: one idea is that it has brought to the mass market/media the idea that women exist to be the sexual objects, on the other hand some argue that magazines like Playboy have been instrumental in breaking down sexual conservatism. How did you feel that your work links to playboy's position in today's media?
KM: My work celebrates what I see as true intimacy - people connecting with others, being vulnerable and transgressing expectations, as well as more deeply connecting with themselves. I have always considered Playboy to represent the antithesis of intimacy, wherein the female body is objectified and commodified. However, I decided to see what would happen if my work were seen in the context against which it rebels. It felt more empowering to join the conversation, add my voice to the discourse, than it would have to bow out.
iskm: Do you think that sexual representations of women can, in fact, be liberating?
KM: If you read Hugh Hefner's essay for Marvin Heiferman's Photography Changes Everything, you might be surprised to find out that the magazine was created not only to add eroticism to the mainstream but also to communicate that women like sex too! Just like my own work, the publication rejected the "fine art nude" that was sanitized through its formal beauty and devoid of the overtly sexual. There is no denying that Playboy turns women into sex objects, exists for the purpose of stoking male fantasy in a hetero-dominant world and celebrates an unrealistic body image. However, for its time, Playboy was (and perhaps can once again become) a progressive publication with a sex-positive attitude, and I can definitely stand behind that!
iskm: What did you to your chosen Kate Moss image and why?
KM: I knew I wanted to use the Playboy shots, being the most recent images of Kate and the ones that somehow connect most with my own work. Kate is, and always has been, a sex symbol, and the Playboy spread serves to emphasize the way that her image functions as such. My interest was to display her touching herself, feeling her own body - giving her body back to her. So, I digitally composited two images of Kate so that she is embracing herself, almost cuddling and stroking her own neck. I like the way her breast falls on her own torso, and tried to construct the image in a way that the sensuality of her own body against itself would be apparent. The interesting thing that happened when I started working with the imagery was the realization that in every photograph her body is displayed in a way that doesn't allow for her to interact with herself. She is always faced outwards, on display for the anonymous viewer. In the image I have constructed, she even embodies the stereotypical girl-on-girl fantasy. Her image, when multiplied, functions to obliterate her own agency in embodying self love, and amplifies her role as an entertainer, seducer and siren, disconnected from herself. This composite plays with the tension that exists in the schism between taking pleasure from one's own sexuality and enjoying the display of one's sexuality for an anonymous other.
So, I didn't think it was possible to out-fantasize playboy, but here is Keren's iskm contribution:
iskm: How/why did you select the source image/s that you did?KM: The two images that I chose were shot in a bedroom environment, with soft lighting and luxurious fabrics. I was attracted to the warm glow of the color palette and felt that she almost looked comfortable on that bed! I really wanted to play with the idea of Kate making love to herself, and bring the highly constructed commercial image back to the plane of actual human experience, at least as much as it would allow.
KM: Fashion is all about image, appearance and perception. I wanted the perception to shift from the desire of the viewer to either possess or become Kate - depending on the person's gender and sexual orientation - to the viewer perceiving the relationship of Kate to herself. In fashion, the models are stand-ins for fantasy. I wanted Kate to somehow transcend fantasy.
iskm: Why do you think kate is so iconic? Is it because she sells an idea of sex and sexuality that is unattainable?
KM: I actually think it is Kate's vulnerability that makes her so iconic. I'm not sure if heroin-chic was so much about thinness as it was about frailty. There is a veil of glamor and polish that supermodels before her, like Christie Brinkley and Cindy Crawford had that she never quite embodied. To me, she always looked like a lost little girl, an impudent and delicate beauty. Maybe it was this waifish helplessness that attracted people to her.
iskm: Which photographer/s would you most want to most see involved in ishotkatemoss?
KM: Nan Goldin. So many overlapping ideas and experiences, and, well, honestly, I always want to know what she has to say! Also, Thomas Allen. He's really good at constructing new narratives out of existing imagery and subverting gender and sexuality.
Wonderful. Thank you Keren. More information about Keren's work can be found at: www.kerenmoscovitch.com/