Estelle Hanania describes herself as ‘the witness’. In her latest collaboration with artist Christophe Brunnquell, the Parisian duo humorously label their roles; he provokes the models, she presses down the shutter, “we are the bully, the victim, and the witness”.
We have to be inspired by our models. Christophe often uses old portraits of the person to create masks or props in advance to use during the photoshoot. We create in our own bubble, we are three most of the time, but to sum up our process, it is: the bully, the victim and the witness
Hanania has been working as a photographer for nearly a decade. Based in Paris she has exhibited internationally and worked with brands such as NOWNESS, Opening Ceremony, Vice Magazine, Urban Outfitters, and many more, including several artist collaborations. Her signature modern-yet-primitive style is renowned, imitated globally, and her ongoing collaboration with Brunnquell pushes the boundaries further, blending art, modelling, theatre, and photography. This month sees a new exhibition open at Paris' 12mail gallery, documenting the duo's work.
Dazed Digital: How did you first become involved with 12mail?
Estelle Hanania: The ‘12 mail / Red Bull Space’ is curated by Guillaume Sorge, whom I first met while working on the Vice show. He's very open and curious about all kinds of creative productions and he offered us the space to show our ‘Hanania & Brunnquell’ work.
DD: You’d already been working with Brunnquell?
Estelle Hanania: The collaboration started in the summer of 2008 in Berlin. I was invited to shoot a portfolio for a Swiss magazine, as was Christophe, so we decided to do something together. The day after Christophe arrived in Berlin we started an eight hour nonstop shoot. It was a great encounter and experience for the both of us, totally exciting, and, more than free, it was liberating, like a total break from our own works but still linked in many ways. It became an inspiring collaboration to feed my other stories. ‘Hanania & Brunnquell’ was born then.
DD: How do you find his working process?
Estelle Hanania: Christophe is a compulsive artist, always working on some drawings, sculptures and crazy pieces 24 hours a day, so regularly we gather and do photo sessions, one or two days in a row, sometimes three times in the same week.
DD: Are there themes you constantly return to?
Estelle Hanania: Masks, ambiguity, double meanings, efficiency, humour, pleasure, drawings, body, nude and violence.
DD: And you draw on these during your shoots?
Estelle Hanania: We have to be inspired by our models. Christophe often uses old portraits of the person to create masks or props in advance to use during the photoshoot. We create in our own bubble, we are three most of the time, but to sum up our process, it is: the bully, the victim and the witness!
DD: So what was the initial inspiration for this exhibition?
Estelle Hanania: This specific show is a vision of where we are at the moment. We didn't produce images especially for the show, we are constantly in an ongoing process, but this will be our first show under the ‘Hanania & Brunnquell’ name.
DD: How would you describe this exhibition?
Estelle Hanania: Pure ‘persistence rétienne’, which in French means that the images will stay in people's minds.
DD: And what is it that you hope to imprint in minds?
Estelle Hanania: Fear. And glee.
HANANIA & BRUNNQUELL, La Guerre du Feu, April 5th - June 1st 2012, 12MAIL / Red Bull Space, 12 rue du Mail, 75002 Paris