interview. nivardo valenzuela       photos. cassette-de-silence
In this selection, CASSETTE-DE-SILENCE, a photographic duo composed by Stephanie + Francis Lane, who through their eyes, show us an intimate perspective of their bodies and relationship. Delving into their world, the self-portraits document the ever deeper connection between Stephanie (also an actor and burlesque performer) and Francis (a model), unfiltered.
Vaffanculo Magazine (VM): How did you two meet?
Francis: We met a couple of years ago when we both had just moved to New York.
Stephanie: We met at a club, don't be shy.
Francis: It's embarrassing! Neither of us really frequent clubs but both wound up at this horrible nightclub. We were totally out of place.
Stephanie: Haha, as usual.
VM: There is a certain comfort, intimacy, trust and vulnerability in your work. How did the idea to post some self-portraits come about?
Francis: We started out with individual Instagram accounts and I would almost never post photos of myself (maybe there is one). I posted portraits of Stephanie. She posted portraits of me and us. Eventually we decided to start Tumblr as combination of our photos. This is because actually we both took most of the photos together anyway. They are both of ours, we were both there, both involved in the creative discussion, and both edited them. They are our story together.
Stephanie: I think the vulnerability and intimacy is apparent mostly in part to the chemistry between us. I don't think either of us have ever been involved with another person who we could openly explore so much of ourselves and of the world with. It's difficult to be completely open and truthful in front of someone, especially in front of a camera. Between him and I, it's very easy. Regarding those qualities being visible in photos of others, I think we are just both naturally highly sensitive to the energy around us.
VM: How would you describe your photographic styles?
Stephanie: I don't like to think I have one particular style. I just try to capture emotion spontaneously most of the time, whatever the setting or subject that interests me might be. I don't like taking a million shots. Usually they are all first shots and under exposed. If that's the case, I'm happy.
Francis: I like to capture photos that have a feeling or that capture the mood of a place. I don't really like posed-for photographs, but obviously that doesn't always work when taking portraits of people.
VM: How do you see the body relating to sexuality? Is sexuality defined by the body?
Stephanie: In terms of the body relating to sexuality, I suppose its a matter of personal liking. For me, sexuality is much more defined by a persons energy and how it connects with mine. There is no stronger element in sexuality than the chemistry between two people. With it, I can express myself in many forms. No physical body can surpass that.
Francis: I agree with Stephanie about chemistry defining someones appeal, but I'm not entirely sure on what creates the chemistry. I think it is probably at least in part down to someone's physical appearance, so in a way the body plays a significant role as well.
VM: What do you like most of each others' body?
Stephanie: His feet and armpits are in constant competition for the top spot in my book!
Francis: I'm afraid it's cliche but I have to say her eyes.
VM: In one of the images, "cunt" is spelled coming out of the navel. It can be seen as a form of appropriating a prerogative term, but what are you trying to convey?
Francis: I felt that the act of a woman letting cunt be written on her body, and the willing participation in the photograph appropriated the use of the term. Considering that message was clear in the photograph, I felt comfortable to share it. I read the other day in an English newspaper that cunt is the one word that still has shock power. I think it's just another word. Maybe whoever is offended by it should look at the photograph :)
VM: Francis, in the past few years fashion magazines have relied heavily on the "pornification of editorials": using the (nude) body and sex as a way to make the images more exciting. Do you think that trend has reached its peak?
Francis: I'm not sure it will ever go away entirely. Sex sells partly because its the lowest common denominator amongst at least the western world. I'm not sure that will ever change. However, its perfectly possible that nudity would go out of fashion editorially just because the industry constantly strives for the new fashion / uniqueness / trend setting (even though it is largely recycling of old ideas).
VM: Stephanie, the actor depends on his body to be able to portray characters. What acting methods (for example, Stanislavski, Grotowski or others) have influenced your development as an actor and working with the body? What draws you particularly to burlesque?
Stephanie: Before studying at Strasberg, I had a bunch of acting coaches who simply tried teaching me how to act or, better said, fake it. Lee's method taught me how to uncover myself completely; to understand and utilize my own archive of emotions as tools to live and create truthfully. Once you have fully realized that, the body is entirely free to communicate anything you want it to. I don't know if I am going to continue pursuing acting, but nonetheless I will always benefit from the immense growth that I've gained at the Institute.
What drew me to burlesque was that, to be honest, it is a form of theatrical dance that is so far from how I truly feel about myself. I've never thought myself to be very graceful, funny, glamorous, and certainly not sexy! It's been the getting up on stage and attempting to perfectly exude this persona that is the motivating factor and challenge for me. I'm also fascinated by corsetry, so they went hand in hand.
VM: Sex/sexuality can be considered a performance, or like Stefanie hashtagged, role play, especially if a camera is involved. There are two images of you with masks, what inspired this image?
Stephanie: It happened to be Halloween! I purchased the masks for us to add to my collection; I have somewhat of a fetish for them. I am also a theatre student, so that usually has an influence on a lot of things.
Francis: Yeah, Steph collects masks. We just put them on one day in the bathroom spontaneously and started shooting.
VM: Finally, what fascinates you about masks?
Stephanie: I'm not entirely sure! I find it really interesting to observe someone's behavior when their faces are hidden. They suddenly feel like they can be as inappropriate as they want to be. I guess it applies to me as well! more images on tumblr