Steven Klein Profile
Here’s an interesting excerpt from New York’s Village Voice magazine, to know better photographer Steven Klein, that is rumoured tp direct Madonna’s next video. Article by Robin Holland.
Before Klein brought Madonna into one of these spaces, for one 10-hour session last August in L.A., they exchanged e-mails and images for several months. Although he’d already done tough, sexy, and brilliantly iconoclastic spreads with Brad Pitt, David Beckham, and Justin Timberlake, Klein was understandably intimidated by Madonna. What can you do with a notoriously been-there, done-that chameleon? Their exchange reassured him: “Her premise is that sometimes not knowing what to do is a good place to start.” Early on, Klein had approached W with the project, knowing that its adventurous creative director, Dennis Freedman, would give him the freedom (and, later, the gatefold pages) he needed. But because Madonna made it clear from the beginning that she wasn’t interested in doing another fashion spread (“If I don’t feel like I’m creating something that means something,” she told W’s Merle Ginsberg, “I don’t want to do it”), the exchange quickly focused on the idea of a performance, with the shoot imagined as a rehearsal, a peek backstage. “I always saw her more as a performance artist, anyway,” Klein says. “She started talking about how the final product is always disappointing, how sometimes the perfected performance no longer has the energy that the process originally had.”
It will surprise no one that in the resulting photographs, Madonna is wearing Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche leather boots, Prada pants, a Dolce & Gabbanasilk corset, and several lavishly ornamented Christian Lacroix Couture pieces, including a beaded face covering that the Daily News mistook for a gas mask. But even in the pages of W no one will mistake this for a fashion shoot. In one of that magazine’s panoramic double gatefolds, the masked Madonna kneels, one leg outstretched, on a bare stage in what looks like a factory space, raw save for several panels of sheer curtains behind her. On the concrete floor nearby, a coyote strains at its leash, while a little further off a burning wedding dress, already half-consumed, sends flames high into the air. (Klein acknowledges “revisiting,” sometimes unintentionally, several key Madonna props–the wedding dress, the bed, the dance pole–to see how the singer’s relationship to them has changed.) At the Deitch center, in a show called, annoyingly, “X-STaTIC PRo=CeSS,” this image has been turned into a billboard-sized “photo animation,” eight feet high and 26 feet long, housed at the back of a deep, shed-like structure designed by those suave masters of the ad hoc, LOT/EK. At this scale, the photo is essentially life-size, and the illusion that we’re looking into another room is underscored by the animated images of the wafting curtains and the mounting flames. The effect is bombastic, all the more so because speakers embedded in the side of the booth are playing a loop of Madonna reciting passages from the Book of Revelation (one of the many “Justify My Love” remixes), filtered through whomping industrial noise.