Interview for the Sergio Motta Institute
about the photographs selected for the HTTPpix Festival

June, 2010

Instituto Sergio Motta: Why did you decide to take part in the HTTPpix Festival?

André França: Firstly, because of the relevance and quality of the actions related to the arts developed by the Sergio Motta Institute. Secondly, because the topic is very interesting and deserves to be the subject of continued and more widespread reflection. Advertising (and the existence of "brands") is perhaps the most present and constant human enterprise in our social life. However, most people don't seem to reflect enough on the subject or adopt a critical stance towards it.

ISM: Tell us a bit about the photos you submitted. How did you feel about the proposed theme?

AF: I entered six photographs from two of my series: three from the "Call me, love" series (2008-2010) and three from the "Chorus of an old song" series (2009). Faced with the proposed theme, I decided to approach it in an oblique way: instead of dealing with the moment when the object bearing the brand is used, I wanted to investigate the moment before and after its use, thus building a certain dimension of the flow of the existence of these objects and establishing, from a critical perspective, a strong contrast between these two moments. Thus, the three photos in the "Call me, love" series feature two store windows and a gigantic billboard. In all three cases, what is being sold is women's clothing. In all three, a certain erotic dimension is associated with the clothes, not only through the visual arrangement of the objects, the composition of a "scene" (which explores female figures), but also the text that is included: in the photograph Call me, love #8 (I want you to take me home and...), the part of the title that is in parenthesis is legible in the photo and functions as an explicit invitation to buy the object, but promises even more (the text continues, in letters that get smaller and smaller: "...and kiss every inch of my perfect body..."). The purchase of the product is thus associated with the promise of pleasure, sex and happiness. In another photo from this first set, Call me, love #7 (hot girls make great clothes), a huge billboard shows beautiful models wearing bikinis and working in a jeans manufacturing process. The text of the advertisement, again incorporated into the title of the photo, reads: "hot girls make great clothes", the piece this time trying to explore the prospect of identification with the consumer. The brand of the product on sale in this piece is clearly visible. I chose to make up this first part of the series with color photos, because their exuberant colors are in tune with the promise of illusion, fantasy and happiness that is at stake in the sales strategy for these objects. Once bought, these brands that we carry are more or less unconsciously addressed to the gaze of the other, seeking to make them work towards the realization of the promise of obtaining those objects (sex, happiness, etc.). These three photos were made in New York. And then we have the second part of this series that I presented for HTTPpix, made up of three photographs from the series "Chorus of an old song". This time I chose three black-and-white photographs to highlight the emptying of the fantasy previously associated with those objects. The photos show objects found on a beach in the south of Bahia. We continue with products associated with women's clothing. We have a jeans (an icon of 20th century clothing) almost entirely buried in the sand, a woman's shoe (another object of female desire) on which you can clearly see the brand, and a doll, a generic Barbie, which embodies the idealized representation of the female figure, also present in the photos of the first set. These are now decayed, discarded objects, emptied of their original investment of desire and their power to capture the gaze of others. They are just the remains of the machine that produces the brands.

ISM: Why did you choose to photograph these brands?

AF: My decision was not made specifically for the brands, but for the urban or natural environment in which they are found. Here, I'm more interested in the relationship, the dynamic between the brand and its context of presentation, because that's where we can best grasp the power of its discourse - as well as observe its subsequent decline and degradation.

ISM: What type of camera did you use (digital camera, cell phone camera, webcam, etc.)? Why?

AF: The three photographs in the "Call me, love" series here were made with a digital point-and-shoot camera. I was on the street and it was simply the camera I had at hand at the time. The three photos were made without prior planning, as an immediate reaction to the encounter with this amalgam of advertising, sexuality and the urban environment that they present. It was only several months after making them that I decided to incorporate them into the series. This series also features photographs taken on film. The other three photographs in the "Chorus of an old song" series were made with an analog reflex camera loaded with black and white film. Here, on the other hand, the work was planned in advance, although, as this is a work with found objects, I never knew exactly what I was going to photograph each day. This camera was my choice because, until now, when I am aware that I am shooting for a new series, I prefer the analog camera. I appreciate many of the advantages and facilities of digital photography, but I also really like certain characteristics of analog photography. I love, for example, making a photograph and not seeing the result at the time; only finding the photo days later, after the film has been developed. I started making my photography series in 2002, and since then more than 90% of my photographs have been made with an analog camera.

ISM: How did you find out about the festival?

AF: I heard about it through my social network.
Copyright © 2010 André França