SYLVIE CASTIONI 'S EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
"A good photograph is one that steals the soul. Sometimes, this moment only lasts a fraction of a second."
Do you remember the moment photography became an obvious medium of expression?
I remember very clearly. I was 18 and just started the “Arts Plastiques” University. At the time, I was expressing myself through painting and sculpture. Then, I discovered film photography, as digital did not exist yet. Everything about it got me: pellicule, pixels, hours at the lab spent alone, the excitement to discover the image revealing itself in the bath…
I was fascinated by bodies, shapes and curves, by the skin and intensity of looks since my childhood. Photography enabled me to capture this Beauty, this mystery and perfection. I started by taking pictures of my girlfriends. They were at ease with their bodies because they were already posing naked for collective drawing classes. I grew up in a culture where the body was viewed as beautiful, healthy, free from any projection, free to exist as it is.
My boarding school room was filled with top models pictures. It was in the 90’s, years where photography magazine was beginning and offering contests for passionate amateurs like me. I was bathing in creativity all day long.
How are you feeling when you are shooting? What kind of emotion is running through you?
I am capturing the world through my own vision, and that is nothing else than my internal world. I am inside and outside at the same time, it’s a constant back and forth between who I am and what I see.
When I look at your work, I feel intensity, complete freedom and abandonment of the model. It feels fresh and free, like the model is totally at ease in front of you: how do you manage to create this “dance as if nobody were watching” atmosphere? Are you preparing your shoots or are you totally spontaneous and working with the magic of the moment?
When the model expresses herself on what she felt during the shoot, it’s always the same feedback: “I felt beautiful, I see myself as I am…” I make them drop their mask. I reveal grace, not the Aesthetic reflected by society Beauty codes. I prepare my shoots, hair and make-up, location, but the magic happens during the shoot itself. A good photograph is one that steals the soul. Sometimes, this moment only lasts a fraction of a second. A look, an attitude, just a little thing can bring out all the magic.
Women are at the core of your work, we feel that they are free, strong and kind at the same time, loving themselves, as if they were celebrating their bodies during that moment spent with you. Is this your way of being a feminist?
Women are bombarded with powerful beauty codes from society and these codes can sometimes be destructive: slenderness, youthfulness, all these make them dependent and not always happy. I try to liberate myself and my photographs from those codes. I pay tribute to this wild beauty that does not necessarily have to be a perfect, flawless body…a woman’s strength resides in her ability to free herself from these chains and use her own tools freely and consciously, echoing what she really is. I am looking for incarnated beauty, not superficial beauty. So, we can say that this is my own way of being a feminist!
What is the central message, the skeleton of your work?
The central message is to find the sacred feminine and show that beauty does not have to be the reflection of codes that come from the outside, but rather a search for what is inside. I read a lot of things on that topic at the moment, like for example: “Women who runs with the wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola-Estes.
The energy and alchemy that is felt between human beings might also guide your collaborations: do you remember when you met Marie and how things evolved afterwards? And how being part of the Selects gallery family seemed totally natural to you?
I met Marie in a Parisian cafe. She had met with my agent a few months before and he had shown her my portfolio. I immediately felt at ease. I also felt her wish to share and her sensitivity to Beauty. Things just fell into place naturally. I showed her a lot of images and she chose what spoke to her. Showing our work is not as easy as it seems, because it has to do with intimacy and also with being exposed and judged.
If you had not become a photographer, would you have expressed yourself through another medium, or would you have done something totally different?
If I hadn’t been a photographer, I would have become a dancer. Dance is part of my life since I am a child. At a very early age, I was expressing myself with movement and space. In my family, we dance a lot: traditional Italian dances, local dance in small villages in the Summer time. My sister is an oriental dance teacher and my daughter a professional dancer. As to me, I am part of a burlesque school “The girls of pleasure”.
What are you working on at the moment? Are you dreaming of accomplishing something that you are not talking about but would be happy to share with us?
I am working on the development of my agency that helps actors, dancers, singers to build their image. I am doing my best to deal not only with society codes, requiring a stereotypical image from them in magazines, and with their personal development at the same time. Through this balance, I am trying to help them grow their charisma and uniqueness. I take both into account to develop their careers and reach Advertising and Luxury at the same time.