Seven sins, sevens colors, seven photographs. A man. A woman. Studio feeling. Specially selected music accompanies each of the photo shoot scenes. Loudspeakers fill the white cube of Pierre Debusschere’s studio in Saint-Gilles with the seven deadly tracks. Music inspires all of his creations. Different bodies are passing in front of his camera : young, white, wrinkled, beautiful, black, old, seductive. This atmosphere has something immanent operatic : every image is set up by a crew of different specialists, carefully staged and directed to explore the full range of human desire in the stylized frames. Music heightens the diapason of emotions. Opera, fashion and photography united in a sinful act of creation.
La Monnaie commissioned a contemporary artist to create an original series of artworks to accompany our season. Belgian filmmaker, visual artist and photographer Pierre Debusschere combines photography with digital arts and innovative technologies to create high impact visuals. Debusschere has shot editorials for several leading fashion, art and lifestyle magazines such as Vogue Homme Japan, Citizen K, AnOther Magazine, Numéro Homme, Hero, as well as being a regular contributor to Dazed&Confused. In 2009, he founded 254FOREST, a creative studio based in Brussels working in the realms of film, art, photography and music. With his creative team, Debusschere launched artistic and fashion projects for among others Dior Homme, Raf Simons, Y3 or Hugo Boss. His work was exhibited at the Villa Noailles in Hyeres and at Colette. In 2013, he developed a very personal project – a homage to the art history and music that inspires the artist – including a book, an exhibition and an one-hour film with soundtrack featuring among others the American hip hop artist Kanye West, called ‘I KNOW SIMPLY THAT THE SKY WILL LAST LONGER THAN I’. Most recently he directed two music videos for the American R&B and pop diva, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter.
In his project conveyed especially for La Monnaie, Debusschere’s photographic lens separates the sterile studio lights into the spectrum of human nature. Models’ bodies are covered with colors traditionally associated with the seven deadly sins. Dramaturgy of paint and poses leads the eye of the spectator through a realm of bodies that counter the red-hot anger with the sloth of the ‘feeling (light) blue’ ; that wrap themselves in the proud velvet of violet purple in the world that goes green with envy ; that drop all conventions and lustfully crave for the pure pleasure ; that are consumed by desires under the dark blue sky illuminated by flamboyant tones of gluttony-orange and greedy sparkles of yellow. Objects created by the acknowledge Belgian artists and designers – the Yellow Diamond Mask and purple toga by Maison Martin Margiela, Blanket by Edith Dekyndt – accompany these constellations of bodies and gestures. Debusschere’s photographs are digitally reworked and blur the boundaries between the photography and painting, realistic body and its archetypical manifestation, inviting the spectator to the meditation on the ontology of the sin and the human nature.
‘His images are not concerned with perspective or distance, but deal with layers of surface. Each image entirely simulated, is about the pictorial process,’ writes on Debusschere’s work Nathalie Khan, the fashion historian from the University of the Arts London. ‘The fashion image – still or moving – explores desire. Debusschere offers a context in which we learn to understand his search for the immediacy of the human face. At times features are scratched, eyes distorted or genders blurred. But what dominates each image is an emphasis to detail and painstaking precision. Colour and skin are important features in Debusschere’s work. His images refer to a kind of beauty we would otherwise find in the work of artists such as Frans Hals. Reminiscent of the traditions of Flemish paintings, his portraits absorb the contrasts between the colour of pale skin and darker shades of shadows.’