Living in a culture of images, it ironically doesn’t happen very often that we’re visually challenged by something. This is why the Dream Sequence series by Surrealist photographer Madame Peripetie stand out. Confronting the viewer with an uncanny combination of opposites, they seek to uncover a hidden reality. Volt Café had the opportunity to talk to Madame Peripetie about her Dream Sequence book, which will be released later this year. She started off with a quote that perfectly captures the essence of her work: “The image is a pure creation of the mind. It cannot be born from a comparison but from a juxtaposition of two more or less distant realities. The more the relationship between the two juxtaposed realities is distant and true, the stronger the image will be – the greater its emotional power and poetic reality…” (Pierre Reverdy, Nord-Sud, March 1918)
Volt Café: Your shoots always tell an intriguing story. How does the story differ now that you’re creating a book?
Madame Peripetie: I have been working on the Dream Sequence project on and off since 2009. It started as a commission for one of the NY magazines and turned into a long-term project. The main inspiration is Salvador Dali’s dream scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s film Spellbound. It is closely connected to archetypal dreams (meticulously investigated by Gustav Jung) that occur in a transitional period of one’s life and often leave you in a sense of awe and reverence, staying in your mind long after you experienced them. The main idea is to create unconventional characters that radiate the contemplative and poetic artificiality of Sugimoto’s wax sculptures and the hallucinogenic beauty of abstract surreal objects trapped somewhere in limbo between life and death. The project keeps evolving on many levels and I felt that this long journey needed a closure in form of a book.
It will also be a part of the exhibition at the National Arts Club in NYC in September this year.
VC: You started the dream sequence series a few years ago. In which way did the series evolve? How is it different from what you first had in mind?
MP: It became bolder and kind of diabolic; in a sense it matured into more of spiritual story… The characters shifted into hybrids trapped between something evil but charmingly beautiful and seductive.
VC: Do you find it difficult to continue being inspired when you’re working on the same project for a longer period?
MP: It is a very organic process that involves a great deal of experimentation in terms of shapes and colours; however, the characters still need to belong to the world I am creating and be the part of the story I am telling. It is a challenge to keep the consistency and to come up with something unique and homogenous at the same time. For the 2012-2013 section I have been working with an excellent team – the stylist Stella Gosteva and make up artist Marina Keri – that fully understand the idea behind the project and therefore contribute a lot to its final outcome.
VC: I read that each character in your series has a name and a biography. Could you do a short profile on one of your favorite characters?
MP: What nonsense! No they don’t. I wouldn’t want to impose any such information on the viewer.
VC: You have a linguistic background. Will you show us some of your creative writing talents in your book or will it just be a visual spectacle?
MP: There will be a text accompanying the book but my linguistic abilities will be only articulated on the semantic level in my photographic work.
VC: Working from a surrealist perspective, do you ever feel like your consciousness limits you?
MP: The project has a set of rules that are to be followed aesthetically but only in order to retain the consistency not to generate any visual barriers or obstacles.
VC: Robert Wilson is someone you admire. If you could collaborate with him, what would this project look like?
MP: A silent explosion.
VC: If your life was a play, what would be the plot?
MP: Something bizarre; kind of Beckett-esque!
Words by Juliette Sijnja
TagsDream Sequence, Juliette Sijnja, Madame Peripetie, Marina Keri, Stella Gosteva,