Interview Leica SMagazine
In both her photography and her fashion films, Monica Menez knows how to combine the grotesque and the humorous in a graphic style that is both powerful and original. “Women” are always central to the motif. Their power is also very recognisable in the interplay of fashion and accessories in Temporary Wardrobe – even though on this occasion the focus is only indirectly on the woman.
S Magazine: When one looks at your work, one is necessarily reminded of avant-gardists such as Man Ray, Horst P. Horst or Luis Buñuel. Do they play a role in your photography or does it all come from yourself?
Monica Menez: I consider it a great complement to be referred to in connection with the artists you mentioned. I like their work very much; even so, I do try to go my own way, both in my photography and my film making. It’s important to me not to copy, and to not let myself be too influenced.
You have a pretty distinctive look as far as the colours are concerned. How would you describe your approach to colour?
Colour is an extremely important element in my work. When I approach a new project, I always begin with the selection of colours and then I pass on to the concept itself. I put together three or four colours that should be the dominant ones. Of course, I do have some favourite colours, but that also always depends on the phase in which I find myself as an artist an any given time. At the moment I have a preference for softer colours, whereas I used to like using stronger ones.
Your photo sets are often quite complex, but very decisive and effective. Is your work more photographic or graphic?
At the moment I’m very graphic: the focus is on the colours and the model, nothing should distract from that. That’s the reason why my photo sets are correspondingly reduced. I like to work and play with the means that a space offers me. That frame of mind, makes it easier to apply spontaneous ideas.
Analogue to your photography, your films are quite the hits, partly Kafka-like, Hitchcock-like, humorous and partly almost grotesque. What are the commonalities between stills and video, where are the differences, how do the two connect?
With photography I can be much more spontaneous and I can improvise. It’s not quite as easy with filming. Is that case, however, there is a story that is being told in the film. Humour, surreal characters and curious elements are an essential part of both my films and my photographs.
How do you approach the subject “woman”? They’re a central part of your photography, but also in your videos, aren’t they?
It’s clear that women are an essential part of my work, and I have a predilection for photographing and filming them. I can not explain conclusively why that is so, which doesn’t mean that I don’t also like working with men. Even so, I always come back to the theme of women.
For the series, you transformed fashion and jewellery items into individual picture stories. What was the concept behind this?
The pictures were put together in collaboration with the Temporary Wardrobe label, a new styling rental for stylists. The idea was to hide the faces of the models, so that the attention would concentrate completely on the fashion and the accessories. During the photo shoot, I improvised and gave my ideas free rein; none of the motifs were fixed beforehand.
What role does camera technology play for you? In what way does it influence your work, or do you look for the technology that best suits your work.
Camera technology plays a big role. For my work, it’s important that it’s uncomplicated to handle – as this allows me to improvise. Because at the moment I always film as well during a photo shoot, I use cameras that can take photographs and also film.