Whether it is Palm trees, California houses, fast-food or Lindsay Lohan, the imagery of American pop culture is a growing source of inspiration for contemporary artists. Each week, Artsper will be presenting you an artist for our “I Love LA saga”. The artists selected are Los Angeles based or themed.
Stefannie Moshammer, a young photographer from Austria who captured the beauty and intimacy of women from Vegas in her series Vegas She, but also the landscapes and visions of California.
Claire: Born in Austria, you did a series called This Is California and another project on the city of Las Vegas, where does this attraction to the West coast of America come from?
Stefanie: Since I’m European raised, I guess the US and especially the West Coast, always had some exotic attraction to me. When I was there the first time around two years ago, I realised it’s just so much easier to get good photographs compared to Austria or a many other parts of Europe. You find plenty of interesting characters and personalities, photographing makes a lot of fun there. I love exploring lives that are somehow outside the ordinary, and you find a lot of that sort of lives in the States. One thing I love the most about California is the South American influence. Since California belonged to Mexico back in the days, the Mexican culture is still a big part of it and this mix makes that place even more charming.
C: What caught my attention immediately was the colors you captured. From pastels to shinier and glittery shades, the work on color and light is stunning. Would you say the West Coast has a particular light and atmosphere that fits your work?
S: I believe every country has its own light, and California definitely has a sort of light that you don’t find anywhere else. It’s this warm tone that surrounds every object. Wherever else I was shooting so far, the light is not the same and it’s impossible to capture the same atmosphere. Colour is a strong element in my work, I use it as a tool to create the picture, same as a painter uses a brush and paint. If you locate yourself in a place which is already strong in colour and light, your work benefits from it.
C: Do you have a particular sensitivity to Los Angeles, does this city inspire you ?
S: Los Angeles is an inspiring place related to the people who live and work there. You find so many talented people who are motivated to create something – a fantastic pool of inspiration. You have so many opportunities in LA, but I think it’s about to figure out what you’re looking for. Especially the creative scene is huge, it’s also an elbow industry though, the desire to see and be seen tends to be manifested in LA. It’s a matter how you deal with it. The city istelf is a really beautiful place and has so many qualities. What I love about LA is, that it’s so diverse and offers you all different kind of possibilies: from the beach, to the mountains and the woods, to the desert, or the vibrant energy of Downtown. You find quality of life – if you surround yourself with the right people.
C: Your camera captures a raw and intimate beauty in each girl of Vegas and She. Did you know those girls, their story?
S: I met each women while I was in Las Vegas for two months. I got to know one Stripper really well and she introduced me to some other women who are working in the same business. They trusted me and my work, so they openend up. I was curious about their stories and asked each of them to tell me why they choosed to work in that business and what’s their opinion. They all had different aspects on it, but when it comes down to it, their overriding motivation is to make money. And Las Vegas is the perfect place for it, it’s all about making money there. Most of them have families they need to take care of financially, one of the women I shot had another job as well, and she works as stripper to make some extra money. And then there are some things as escort which women indirectly get in touch with, when they work in the nightclub-business.
C: What inspires you at the moment?
S: At the moment and all the other times: people and their mind.
C: If you had to do someone’s portrait who would it be?
S: Charles Bukowski, if he were still alive.
C: What are your projects at the moment?
S: I’m currently working on a project in Denmark, it’s an exploration of the Danish Youth Culture, but with a focus on male adolescent “underdogs” of society. It deals with the topic of self-observation, self-expression, a reflection of their lifestyle, their freedom and how they deal with it.
C: Is there any French personality or celebrity you like? Are interested in? Would like to meet?
S: Sophie Calle! I adore her work – she is a master in that what she is doing, even when she deals with her worse life experience she knows how to exploit it for her artistc work.