2012 November 27
Billy Farrell Agency View Gallery
"Still Life", an exhibition of new works by David LaChapelle, opened last night at both Paul Kasmin Galleries in Chelsea. With subjects ranging from Ronald Reagan to Michael Jackson, the works represent eerie compositions of dismembered icons that were found at wax museums. (Naturally!) We caught up with LaChapelle during the show to get the skinny.
How did you even come up with this idea?
I was traveling in Dublin, Ireland and my friend owned a wax museum that had been vandalized, which I went to visit. I wasn't thinking about shooting it, because I never carry a camera with me. I went and saw it and immediately wanted to shoot these heads as a series where some were vandalized and some weren't. I then continued with the Hollywood Wax Museum. I used (wax) figures that were retired, damaged, or in storage.
There's a lot of relevance because I photographed some of these celebrities in real life. I've always been interested in aging and how people can be replaced. We're all going to age and decay at some point.
What was the first piece you started with?
I don't remember. Maybe Michael Jackson. I kind of got emotional with Michael when I was trying to put his face back together.
You never photographed Elvis. Did you enjoy getting to finally work with celebrities who you haven't shot before?
These figures kind of have a power. You are kind of respectful. It's different than sculptures because it's so realistic with all the hair and lashes. They're sort of life-like. Opening these boxes was like opening up a tomb. You didn't know what you'd find inside.
Do you have one you're particularly proud of?
No. I like them all as a group.
Anybody that you didn't get to do that you'd want to?
No. Amanda (Lepore) asked me why she wasn't in a wax museum, and I said it's because she made herself into silicone.
"Still Life" is at Paul Kasmin Gallery (293 Tenth Avenue & 515 West 27th St.) through January 19th, 2013.
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