Laetitia Bica is a Belgian photographer, who turns fashion photography on its head using self-referential quirks and achingly self-aware imagery. Her photos often require a second glance to really see what she means, and span the spectrum from glossily polished and satirical editorials to gritty snapshots from her daily life. We chat to her about where it all started, her plans for crossing over into video work and the inspirations that drive her work.
Matriochka at Naked, 2008
When did you first get into photography as a hobby? At which point did you start to see yourself as a professional?
I've immersed myself in photography since I was a child; I got my first camera when I was ten years old, and pretty soon was inseparable from it. I want to capture each moment from my life, so as to give my past experiences a place in my future and I started to see myself as a pro when I wanted to take away more than souvenir and memory photographs. Still, I realise that my childhood approach to photography is central to the way I work now.
Hell'O Monster for Victoire, 2008
I studied fine art photography at St Luc à Liège, where I learned how to develop my ideas and translate them with different techniques. In 2004, my final degree project (Anachronisme) was chosen and featured in the Photography Biennial exhibition at the Fine Arts Museum in Santiago, Chile.
Which other artists or photographers do you think inform your work?
I'm inspired a lot by artists like Erwin Wurm, Maurizio Cattelan and Jeff Koons but my biggest sources of inspiration come from what I see on the streets, the people I meet and the media I tap into.
In series like Anachronisme (above) you have a real humorous take on aesthetic and presentation. Why do you think it's important to inject humour into fashion photography?
Humour and aesthetics are important for me to get a message across. In this series, I was inspired by the aesthetic look of the fifties, and wanted to talk about the sexual liberation of women, as read through that coquettish view of sex at the time.
You reference toys, plastic and the glossy veneer of high fashion. What are your thoughts on that unnatural look?
People look to modify their bodies more and more, with everything from cosmetic surgery and tattoos to piercings. Something about the consecration of the body resonates with me, and I like to explore and express that fascination in my work.
The idea of man becoming an object to consume aligns so much with messages from the media at the moment; particularly with women portrayed in fashion, we're often talking about the perfect 'plastic' look. I like to push this idea as far as comparing the body with a toy.
What inspires you to incorporate fairytale elements into your shoots (as with Mermaid above, for example)?
Mermaid was a commission for singer, An Pierle, and ran in the Belgian magazine Attitude. Pierle bathes in a dream world and her music inspired a love story in me, between a mermaid and a sailor lost at sea.
Your portraits are particularly interesting too. What's your favourite part about shooting one or two people in such an intimate way?
Portraiture is a part of my work that I love most, particularly for the exchange and rapport I can build with the subject of the photo. I don't shoot celebrities, I look above all else for a certain authenticity that shows itself in the people I naturally have around me.
Cathy Guetta, 2008
I usually only have a short amount of time to shoot a set of portraits, so I have to set up my equipment as I work basically. Once in front of my camera, the subject is faced with their image in a setting that they've helped to establish. I hardly prepare my portraits, and prefer a spontaneous and instant approach.
What are your work plans for 2012? Any new projects we can hear a sneak preview on already?
Well, I'm in the process of developing my video universe: I'm working with animator Benoît Greant on a stop motion video for Alice Knackfuss' AW12/12 collection (shown at the Showroom Belgium last week at London Fashion Week). Video's a new and refreshing way for me to realise my ideas and my passion, so with the help of other artists and designers I'm exploring more of that.
I continue to be very active with the young designer community; for me, it's the most important way to unite for the future.
See more of Laetitia's work on her website.