Thursday, January 25, 2007

My best shot / Rankin / Beautyfull

by Rankin
Rankin's best shot 

'This was taken at a time when we didn't really care about health and safety'

'Portrait of the artist / Rankin / I wouldn't want there to be another me'

Thursday 25 January 2007 13.07 GMT

This is quite an old picture. It was for a fashion story for Dazed and Confused magazine called Highly Flammable, in 1997 or 1998.

At the time, a lot of clothes were made out of that horrible shiny nylon material. I was at a party, and my ex-wife, who was always very critical and amusingly ironic about fashion, said to me that if someone set light to these kids at the party, they'd all burn immediately. It made me think it might make for a funny set of images.
I photographed them in the studio with very soft daylight, and then I had the images made into life-size cut-outs. I did a similar thing with Pulp, where we made cut-outs of them for an album cover. Then I took the cut-outs into the street and set them alight. I just threw on a load of lighter fluid. There's lots of pictures of my assistants jumping out of the way. It was at a time when we didn't really care about health and safety.
I shot it on film, on a tripod, because it was quite a long exposure. I didn't use any flash, but there is a very little bit of retouching. I just took out the stand for the cut-out, which was pointing out of the back a little.
The photo is a bit of a dig at fashion, the shallowness and emptiness of the industry, which can take itself far too seriously. You've got to balance out the seduction and what you enjoy about it with a little bit of cynicism. I think that pervades my work in general. I'm asking, "Why am I seduced by this? Why do I like it so much?" That's what the piece is about.
Interview by Leo Benedictus

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Life and style / Amy Winehouse / You're all bastards

Amy Winehouse


Amy Winehouse
"You're all bastards"

Interview by Rosanna Greenstreet
Saturday 13 January 2007 16.41 GMT

Amy Winehouse, 23, was brought up in north London. She was expelled from the Sylvia Young Theatre School and later quit the Brit School where she was studying musical theatre. At 17 she landed a contract with Island Records and her debut album, Frank, turned platinum and was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. In 2004, she was nominated for two Brit Awards and won the Ivor Novello Best Contemporary Song Award for her debut single. She has just released a single, You Know I'm No Good, from her new album, Back To Black. In February and March she tours the UK.

Amy Winehouse

When were you happiest?
Last night on stage.

What is your greatest fear?
Dying old or never meeting Tony Bennett; if I never get to meet him, I might as well be dead.
Which living person do you most admire?
No one. You're all bastards. Maybe Mark Lamarr for that precise fact.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My fickleness and aggression.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Two-facedness and negativity.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
Having sex dreams about members of my crew.

Aside from a property, what's the most expensive thing you've ever bought?
My heart back from someone who may or may not have deserved it. I paid a lot.
What is your most treasured possession?
My loyalty.
Where would you like to live?
In Camden.
What would your super power be?
Super sexuality.
What makes you depressed?
Any/everything, any/everyone.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I wish my boobies were bigger sometimes, but I like the way I look.
Would you rather be clever and ugly, or thick and attractive?
I have no choice; I am both cripplingly stupid and hideous to look at.
Who would play you in the film of your life?
Liza Minnelli.
What is your most unappealing habit?
Being an abusive drunk.
What is your favourite smell?

Petrol and hairspray.
What is your favourite word?
What is your favourite book?
Catch-22 or Pigtopia or Beyond Black.
What is the worst thing anyone's ever said to you?
I wouldn't remember.
Cat or dog?
Tiny ones in all colours.
Is it better to give or to receive?
Give - I can't receive.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Having my cake and eating it, too.
What do you owe your parents?
About £450,000.
To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
Myself for being a self-obsessed dickhead/my boyfriend for punching him often.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Falling in love itself.
What does love feel like?
A disease that consumes you eternally.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
'Pssssshhh' - or, when drunk, 'whatever' and 'dickhead'.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
To the 60s and I'd go out with the Ronettes.
How do you relax?
How often do you have sex?
When I can.
What is the closest you've come to death?
I was hit by a car once on my bike, but I still rode home.
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
More sex and more gym.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
This album.
What keeps you awake at night?
Being sober.
How would you like to be remembered?
As genuine.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
That you learn things every day and life is short.
Where would you most like to be right now?
In my baby's arms.
Tell us a secret.
I've got a crush on my backing singer.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

My best shot / Anne Hardy / Untitled VI

Untitled VI
Photo by Anne Hardy

Anne Hardy's best shot

Interview by Leo Benedictus

Thursday 11 January 2007 10.33 GMT

t took about two months to set everything up in this picture, which was taken in December 2005. It's not a real place; it was built in my studio in Hackney, London. The whole space is structured around the position of the camera. It's put together as a photograph, rather than an installation. Sometimes I go back and reshoot things, moving something 10cm this way or that. The actual moment of taking the final photograph can almost seem - not an anticlimax, but such a tiny thing.

I usually start with abandoned objects I find in the street. All the old science equipment here came from a school. I put a lot of specific things into the image, without making specific references, so people can bring different things to it. There is no single explanation. I wanted to create the feeling that there are unfamiliar systems at work here. For example, maybe it was reasonable for someone to label the sections of a basketball.
I always use a similar setup for my pictures, which are taken with a medium-format camera and wide-angle lens. I try to make it look as if the light has come from within the space. In this shot, it comes from the skylight, which is intended to look like daylight, and from the red bulb, rather than anything behind the camera.
I just enjoy this picture. It's always hard to choose a favourite image, but there's something about this one that surprises me more than the others. You have certain pieces as an artist that you feel push your practice on, show you new things. It surprises me that I made this one.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

My best shot / Bruce Davidson / Girl holding kitten

Girl holding kitten
London, 1960
Photograph: Bruce Davidson

Bruce Davidson's best shot 'I found her by accident. She took me into a cave, then some kind of dancehall'
Thursday 4 January 2007 11.41 GMT

I always had a feeling for Britain. We would listen to the BBC during the war, when I had an uncle Herb who was flying a bomber, which I believe may have been from England.
In 1960, I purchased a Hillman Minx convertible, which wasn't a very expensive car in those days, and drove around England with the top down. It was an American-drive car, which was an advantage because I could snap people on the sidewalk more easily. I also had a sports coat made with the side pockets larger, so I could fit my Leicas in them.
I found this young woman quite by accident, as I was walking the London streets. I came upon a group of teenagers, and struck up a conversation. They took me into a cave, and then some kind of huge dancehall. I think it was on an island. It was getting late, and I needed to move on the next morning, so I didn't stay very long.
But I isolated this girl to photograph, holding that kitten, which was probably a stray she had found on the street, and carrying that bedroll wrapped around her body. There was a great deal of mystery to her. I didn't know where she had come from, and I didn't get her name, but there was something about that face - the hopefulness, positivity and openness to life - it was the new face of Britain.
The picture was taken with a normal 50mm lens, with a wide aperture. I used the Ilford film, called HPS - hyper-sensitive film - which I loved, although it is probably no longer made. I loved that grainy texture; she has the feeling of a statue.
I still feel close to this picture. I wonder what that young girl is doing now. She must be lurking around London someplace, or she may not be alive, you never know.