Lois cohen & Indiana roma voss
How did you begin collaborating together?
Indiana: Lois and I had known each other by a family connection since we were kids. When we ran into each other at a party a few years ago I proposed a collaboration. After the first shoot we did we found our creative minds really connected and so the rest is history.
Can you tell us about your collaborative process?
Lois: A lot of the time, the way are concepts come into being goes quite organically, because of the fact that we are friends. We would have really serious conversations about certain issues or crack jokes and then have an epiphany, an idea for a photos series, based on what we’ve been talking about.
Indiana: When we start a new project together we each take the time to research and visualize the concept separately. After this we get together and compare and contrast. Usually a lot of what we present each other is the same and we are on the same page, sometimes we need to present arguments as to why one of us want to use something. When it comes to collaboration on the actual set we leave one another without interference to express themselves unhindered save a quick run down on the game plan in the morning.
The images have a very distinct style (both the styling and photography) – what are some of your inspirations?
Indiana: This is always a tough question to answer because inspiration comes from all over and I don’t take the time to “get inspired”, that just happens subconsciously. I like spending my time filling myself with visuals whether that be watching films, going to museums or galleries, people watching on the street or simple viewing the pages of other artists on social media. For me there is no one way or right way to get inspiration, as long as I keep exposing myself to new and interesting things I am bound to get inspired.
I get strongly inspired by fantasy and fiction as well as the absurdity of reality and daily life. Sunconsiosly lots of ideas come to mind, indeed, while watching people on the streets for example or being part of random, daily life situations, or when I’m drawing. Moments I need myself to “force” myself to inspired I usually dig into my bookcase filled art books, children books and comics or watch movies of my favourite directors such as Stanly Kubrick, Tim burton and John Waters etc.
What inspired your Local Angelsseries and how did you create the looks? Are the looks developed from real characters or are they entirely fictional?
Lois: Photographically it’s has the most documentary approach form all the work I’ve ever made, although it’s still very staged for a huge part. Most of the times we come up with a narrative and then cast someone who fits the profile. With this project, it was the other we around, casting characters who are already so authentic and building around them; enhancing their eccentricity through styling and hair and make-up. some are almost completely stylised form our side, some are almost completely “untouched”.
Indiana: Local Angels was a mixture of fiction and reality. The casting was indeed absolutely crucial in this series. Even though some stories are completely fictional, behind most images the narrative is created around the character that we casted. From a styling point of view, I took what was already there within these eccentric characters and enhanced their appearance and thus their story.
The portraits from your series Metamorphosis are based on women from a range of cultures and times. How did you choose these characters and what was your process in bringing them into the 21stCentury?
Indiana: Lois and I did a lot of research finding the right stories to depict. We wanted women that where iconic and recognisable so that a vast audience would understand our narrative. We also wanted women whom we felt had been dealt a poor hand and had been historically misrepresented. It was also important that the character excited us from a visual point of view.
Lois: Casting was very important. Our selection of models was the most contradicting element with the original icons (we chose to redefine), to show that representation matters. U almost never see a muslim woman in super hero context (in western media), a range of different skin tones among disney princesses or a fuller body associated with classical imagery of a sex symbol… and why not?
In many of your photographs hair is a defining feature, such as your Marilyn portrait from Metamorphosis. Can you tell us about your use of hair and provide some specific examples where you feel like it has elevated the character portrayed (in either series)?
Lois: In Metamorphosis we wanted to break barriers specifically on female beauty. Within each image of the series we tried to touch upon one or more stereotypes, body hair being one of them.
Indiana: The hair works so particularly well in this image to me because it looks really soft and subtle yet at the same time it is completely out there and changes this image of Marylin into a political statement.
In some cases, the hair is very stylised. How do you decide upon the specific styles used? Do you collaborate with a hairstylist?
Indiana: We have been lucky enough to have collaborated with some amazing hair artists like Jake Gallager and Issey Hyde. I think it is important to give the hair artist some sort of reference as to what you are looking for in the hair and then to let them apply their expertise and creativity. This however really only works if you are working with people you trust.
Lois: We both certainly share a love for dramatic hair, high, big hairdos or really long hair to the floor. The huge wigs of dragqueens is definitely hair porn to me. It does really have to fit the image, so it’s not somethings I constantly use in my imagery, but the love for big hair is real.
Body hair is also a prominent feature. Why do you think it is important to emphasise this?
Indiana: I think it is important to show representation of all different body types and appearance. Body hair is definitely part of that and vastly underrepresented in the media.
What do you hope people take away from your collaborative projects?
Indiana: I hope people understand the message that we try to convey. I they feel galvanised to create work that represent the same views. I hope they feel included, that they were able to find something of their own tribe within the work.
Empowerment on multiple levels, inclusion. And what I always love if I feel creatively triggered by something I see, so I hope our work has that effect as well.
And what’s instore for the future?
At the moment we are working on a few smaller collaborations as well as gearing up for our next big project so stay tuned.