The Ravestijn Gallery presented artist duo Inez & Vinoodh at the PRISMES sector of Paris Photo 2019. A specially conceived artist book, made in collaboration with Hatje Cantz, will also be launched at Paris Photo.
Inez & Vinoodh’s work is unrestricted by a singular aesthetic; allowing their approach to be determined by those in front of the camera, the idea behind each photograph always take precedence. Their works are authored by their collective name and by eschewing further information of their individual roles, we are reminded of their devotion to the image and the person, rather than to context and expectation. And whilst their methodology is constantly responding and fluctuating, it is a persistent duality (both in their artistic work and in life as partners) that creates their unifying and unmistakable character. As Inez says herself, “there’s always a tension between the beautiful and the grotesque, the spiritual and the mundane, high fashion and low fashion, male and female”. Indeed, this duality can be seen in many of the photographs included in the exhibition. In Lucy Fer, the Estonian supermodel Carmen Kass is transmuted into a mythological three-headed creature; a vast flood of wiry haired faces sits atop her naked body and here the elegance and realism of the human form is pitted against monstrous fantasy.
Their maverick ways of working have facilitated a new perception of fashion photographs in the context of art, seeing their work grace the pages of fashion magazines and the walls of museums in equal measure. Thirty years on, Inez & Vinoodh still taunt the temporality of much modern fashion, trading trends for timeless photographs, some which are re-contextualised decades later, just as this exhibition intends to do. At the Ravestijn Gallery, the works are hung to form triptychs, inviting the viewer to look at the works in a new context. In some cases, one image becomes the sum of the two works next to it. And in others. formal or human relationships are highlighted by this new hanging order.
Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin (b. 1963 / b. 1961) are one most the most significant figures in contemporary photography, widely known for the introduction of digital manipulation into the fashion industry in the early 1990s. At a time when such technologies had primarily been used in advertising, and the dominant aesthetic was entwined with the ‘grunge’ movement, Inez and Vinoodh re-imagined these tools for their own use, pioneering a new colourful and fantastical canon to the applause of both the fashion and art industry. The digital manipulation of images is balanced in such an astute manner that we are able to notice the hand of Inez & Vinoodh only just, allowing us to suspend our disbelief, if only for a moment.
Although this way of working no longer dominates their oeuvre, often traded for a sensibility built entirely in the real, such a context is critical to understanding their art as a relentless dedication to the photographic medium. Whilst today it is harder to acknowledge the weight of such a shift in a culture driven by seamless technology, it is rare to find a corner of a name or brand in popular culture who has not been touched by the work of Inez and Vinoodh in some way.
Inez & Vinoodh have created editorials for an innumerable list of leading brands that include Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Chanel and for personalities such as Kate Moss, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, and Julianne Moore. Their work has also been exhibited in galleries and museums internationally including the Stedelijk Museum and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Hayward Gallery in London, the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg and the Whitney Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. A retrospective show titled Pretty Much Everything 1985-2010 began its international tour at FOAM, Amsterdam in the summer of 2010 and has since travelled to the Pavilion Bienal in Sao Paulo, the Dallas Contemporary in Dallas and Fotografiska in Stockholm. In 2020 their work has been on view at the Palazzo Reale in Milan curated by Francesco Bonami and at the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin.