Friday, February 8, 2013

Joanna Pickering

photo: Anna Österlund
Joanna Pickering and Gustaf Heden for Ravishing Mad, photo: Anna Österlund

One of my favourite shoots all time was with British actress Joanna Pickering. She and her boyfriend came over to my place one windy afternoon and I had asked her "will you let me do anything I want?"  They were over here in Malmö for some weeks for the memorial concert of musician Gustaf Kjellvander and had some time off between work. Gustaf just tagged along and had no idea I wanted him in the pictures, as far as I understood he thought he'd play us I started painting both of them white. He was afraid he'd come across as some kind of a model gold-digger just "happening" to show on my doorstep in time for a shoot. Hahahha it was nothing like that at all, he was practically  forced into modelling that day!

Joanna Pickering for Ravishing Mad, photo Anna Österlund
 I painted them in the face, neck, some on the arms, clay in the hair, and then dressed them in my white Darwin collection. We took the car down to the abutment of the almost 8 km long bridge over to Copenhagen. The totally flat landscape, the dark sea, the lines of windmills, flat Denmark only seen on a clear day: it's grand and quite surreal and I love it. The clouds were amazingly dramatic and the air was sticky yet cold and electrified, a thunderstorm was coming in and we didn't have much time.

Photo: Anna Österlund
Joanna Pickering and Gustaf Heden, photo Anna Österlund

A few weeks earlier I had found an artwork standing by itself hidden and far away from the footpath. I tried to remember where it was and we ran around like madmen. On a sunny day it would have been much easier to spot. Full of angled mirrors it stood there proudly, looking down at the tossing sea.

Joanna got into it immediately and gave me exactly what I wanted in a matter of seconds. I didn't know her much back then, but I now know that she had been modelling for years before getting into acting. But she wasn't at all like other models I had met. She wasn't just standing there trying to look like a horny doll, she asked out loud what I wanted, had ideas and understood my anti-fashion. After I felt like I never wanted to work again unless my model was an actor!

Joanna took my instructions and made them her own, she was absolutely brilliant. Gustaf was kinda nervous he said, but kept calm. Suddenly she puts her arms around his shoulders as if she was protecting him, she held him silently in such an honest and intimate way, I remember little details like her fingers squeezing his arm. They held each other like that, calmly as if they were looking at the world going under. I think we shot for 20 minutes tops before the rain came and that wasn't even a problem, I had already taken the pictures I wanted. It must have been the quickest photo shoot I ever did!

One of the pictures was later printed in the oh so cool french urban fashion/culture magazine WAD.
See more of my photos and films here!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Like a long lost lover

When I was 13 and the world turned its back on vinyl and I was given my very first CD, it was a Jon Bon Jovi album. I absolutely loved it, but forgot all about him in a while...until I graduated at 19 and a good friend quoted him and wrote the words "You give love a bad name" inside my student hat. And now 15 years later I suddenly hear from him again like an old lover. Apparently he has opened a non-profit restaurant in Red Bank called Soul Kitchen, it's situated just south from NYC. The food is healthy and organic, you might be seated by someone you don't know and everyone is welcome: The menu has no prices, you pay what you can afford, you may even volunteer and get a voucher for a meal in return in case your back pocket is empty. This is so cool!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Danach - a film by Anna Österlund to music by Mikael Karlsson with Black Sun Productions

'Danach' by Anna Österlund - a dark short film about the pale steel grey dawn that follows grief, out on Youtube.

Here is a new film just made, an emotional, dark and honest three minute video illustrating the harrowing sorrow that follows when the ceremonies are long gone. It's an interpretation I made of  a string quartet processional called “Danach”, composed by the oh so brilliant Mikael Karlsson (same Mikael as in Breathing) who I just love to work with. It's the final track (performed by the talented musicians of Sirius Quartet) on the last-ever album called "Phantasmata Domestica" from the avant-punk electronica duo Black Sun Productions and this album is the outcome of their three year long collaboration with Mikael Karlsson. The punk legend Lydia Lunch is actually a collaborator on this album too. She's one of those people that I really look up to. I discovered her work from the 90'ies some years ago and was soooo inspired, she's the mother of  DIY and the queen of underground, she gave me the courage to start making my own videos.

The album is about loss, mourning and the grimness in having to move on. Sadly, it's the last ever album from Black Sun Productions, since Massimo Villani and Pierce Wyss after a decade of fantastic, uncompromising art-making have decided to go separate ways. You might have heard of them before, they also go under the name Anarcocks, and call themselves "artivists" they're really crazy and cool I think, far away from the mainstream tracks and seemingly completely fearless.

Black Sun Productions have performed together internationally for a decade, often in collaboration with other artists such as Lydia Lunch and Coil, and have made controversial art installation tours, experimental film and music, and have in their work explored everything from political anti-racist movements to ritualized sex and fetisch.The album name is Phantasmata Domestica which means something like house ghost and is an epic and emotional tale about sorrow and loss. It's dedicated to a long-time collaborator of  theirs, Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson of the band Coil. who they used to perform with. It is now two years since Sleazy's death.

The last track "Danach" is about the next day, featuring newcomer Maja Mintchev waking up in a cold dreamlike world, being forced to move on with her life yet overwhelmed by sorrow and reality. Mikael called it "when a horrible light demands a new day and when the ceremonies are all gone. We're never more naked than then, never more honestly fragile. It is at this moment we either grow or crumble as persons."


I got to interpret the music freely and came up with this video in just a weeks time. I made the heavy wool coat that she's wearing and added my grandmother's old mourning veil to the costume. The house I built on top of an old record player, so I could rotate it and the wind comes from Truls who's standing behind the window with my blow-drier. I had a lot of fun making the film, it's quite tricky to go through with ideas when you don't have a budget or a crew to help out, but sometimes that gives birth to new ideas. You should have seen me running back and forth in the forest between the camera and the smoke patrons.

Maja Mintchev was acting for her first time here and I found her by approaching her in a store downtown last year and photographed her in my Darwin collection. We filmed for just a few hours, in the same forest and only a few hundred meters away from where I made Breathing.

Read more in Paul Gallagher's interview with me in the Dangerous Minds blog.

The album Phantasmata Domestica is available on iTunes and Spotify and if you're interested in knowing more about Mikaels incredible music projects, you should definitely sign up for his once a month newsletter. It includes treats like free downloads  and the joy of reading his beautifully written texts about his work and collaborations with other contemporary artists as Lykke-Li, Kleerup, Amadeus Leopold, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Tobias Picker, Bruce LaBruce, Lydia Lunch, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Benoit-Swan Pouffer, Alexander Ekman, The Swedish Royal Ballet, Mariam Wallentin and a looooong list of many more extraordinary talents.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Darwin collection - a play with bones

I shot these photos of Maja Mintchev in my Darwin Collection during the Summer of 2011. I just realised I never posted them on this blog before! With this collection I started to move away from production and put focus on going through with the ideas I had no matter what. The tops are made by thick layers of denim that I cut and put together with rivets, studs and shoe lace. I made the whole collection in my living room instead of doing them in factories around Europe as I did before. I love to explore the boundries between art an fashion and this was the start, there is more to come but I don''t do seasons anymore.  xx Anna

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Upcoming Art Exhibition Invite

I have an upcoming art exhibition in Malmö, opening night is next Friday

Helena Alvesalo who is the master mind behind One Window Gallery says that it all started when she moved in to a ground floor apartement on Östervärnsgatan in Malmö last year. In her bedroom window she placed two big ceramic sculptures and soon noticed that people passing by stopped to have a look, one day a whole group of kindergarten kids was peeking through the window. Now she invites artist every month to show their work in her window and next week the pulls up the blinds for a thing I made. I hope to see you there and there will be soup for the first visitors...and wine of course! RSVP here.

My Music List - and childhood memories

I spent many late Friday and Saturday nights alone in my room drawing and sewing while listening to Chopin, Miles Davies, The Temptations...and Jon Bon Jovi. Or the late night talkers at the local radio station. I was prolly one of their few night time followers and won quite a few listeners competitions. Once when I was 12 or so answering "Who's the most beautiful, Michael Jackson or Michael Bolton" and said "Michael Bolton because at least he's natural". Here is a list of some that I really like these days:

The Cure, Cold War Kids, The Kills, Anything that Jack White is involved in, Harlem, The Dead Weather, Marilyn Manson, Pixies, Antony And The Johnsons, The White Stripes, Arctic Monkeys, David Bowie, Hole, Depeche Mode, The Strokes, Johnny Cash, Ebba Grön, Billie Holiday, Joy Division, Chopin, Kate And Anna Mcgarrigle, Prince, Audioslave, Kent, Thåström, Freddie Mercury, Franz Ferdinand, Queen, A Camp, Bloc Party, Hello Saferide, Moneybrother, Courtney Love, First aid kit, Dave i.d., Beck, Bob Dylan, The Raconteurs, PJ Harvey, Clinic, Suicide, Nine Inch Nales, Them Crooked Vultures, The Neutrinos, The Black Keys, Billie Holiday, Thee Oh Sees, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Rage Against The Machine, Robyn, New Order, Deerhoof, Times New Viking, Future Of The Left, Radiohead, Lovvers, Interpol, Juliette And The Licks, Babyshambles, The Libertines, Editors, Kaiser Chiefs, Boy From Brazil, Razorlight, Les Savy Fav, Good Shoes, Royal Republic, Yoko Ono, Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings, The Amplifetes, Quit Your Dayjob, No Joy, Die Antwoord, Saul Williams, Sharon Jones, Redwalls, The Vines, Cage the Elephant, Hockey, Blood Red Shoes, Band of Skulls, The Cramps, Screaming Lord Sutch, Cat Power, The National, Timber Timbre, Scout Niblett, Honkeyfinger, Young Fathers, Crystal Castles, Old Crow Medicine Show, Booka Shade, Miss Li, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, The Kooks, Bass Drum of Death, Nirvana, Trentemøller, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Count Basie, Bonerama, Eurythmics, La Roux, Mando Diao, Big Mama Thornton, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Dead Skeletons, My Morning Jacket, Lykke Li, Masquer, Woodkid, Spoek Mathambo, Mikael Karlsson, Rufus Wainwright, Laleh, Iggy Pop, Matthew Stone, Medeleine Peyroux, Low, Elvis Presley, Deathline, Rodriguez, Håkan Hellström...

The last two are on constant repeat now, so melancholically beautiful.

Monday, September 3, 2012

My New Film - CLARA

"After the success of Breathing, her haunting collaboration with composer Michael Karlsson, film-maker Anna Österlund has returned with her latest short, Clara - a beautiful and impressionistic film examining the conflicting pressures of motherhood.(...) I worked with symbols from classic paintings such as the apple symbolising temptaition, and other symbols showing struggle, hard work, restlesness and love. I’m leaving it up to the viewers to make their own interpretations, but everything is there for a reason."

Paul Gallagher at Dangerous Minds made a beautiful interview with me last week about my life and thoughts on the work I do in fashion and film. Here is my latest 3 minute film - CLARA - a collaboration with musician and fashion designer Jenny Grettve. See it on Youtube if Vimeo gives you trouble.

clara from Ravishing Mad on Vimeo.