@see_know_evil is posting from the late photographer’s archives ahead of the release of a long-awaited documentary
When Davide Sorrenti died in 1997, from a kidney failure brought on by a combination of heroin and a long-term health condition, it marked the pinnacle of the moral panic over ‘heroin chic’. The photographer, son of renowned fashion photographer Francesca Sorrenti and younger brother of Vanina and Mario Sorrenti, became a figurehead for the problems of New York’s 90s fashion scene, falling into drug abuse after explosive critical and commercial success before he’d even turned 21.
Through See Know Evil, a documentary film charting an ‘oral biography’ of Davide Sorrenti’s life, Charlie Curran wants to paint a more intimate portrait of the photographer, featuring interviews with those who knew him best. Now, through an accompanying Instagram, Curran seeks to show the long process of making this film – the Kickstarter for which was started all the way back in 2012.
The idea for @see_know_evil was formed when Curran saw the public celebrate what would have been Sorrenti’s birthday on July 9. “Seeing the outpouring of love for him online from friends and strangers, I knew if I could do anything even as small as sharing some of what I’ve learned along the way to help keep the fire burning I had to,” he tells us. “I started the account the next day.”
The Instagram features stills from the film and behind-the-scenes shots, but focuses mostly archival images shot by Sorrenti of subjects including Milla Jovovich and Jaime King – his girlfriend at the time of his death. There are also images of Sorrenti himself, some taken by his family and some self-portraits.
It’s not been an easy process to compile material to post, though, since the images were captured in the latter stages of an era without the internet and our now-everpresent digital archives. “Even editorials from old issues of Dazed required us taking trips to the library with a scanner in tow,” says Curran. “It’s the real deal, the opposite of Pinterest. I’ve got the bruises to show.” But the director has enjoyed the process too: “Even after years of working on See Know Evil, there’s no way I could have imagined just how prolific his archive was... It’s been really exciting playing fashion archeologist.”
Sorrenti’s family and close figures such as King played a large part in the process of filming See Know Evil, and have been equally instrumental in the curation of Curran’s Instagram. Francesca, for example, brought his prolific (if sadly truncated) archive out of storage for the first time in decades for Curran to browse, and he relates how Vanina, Davide’s sister, “always jokes that I was running around in my socks bumping into walls in the dark at four in the morning at Davide’s mother’s house, trying not to wake her scanning his archives into the night for weeks at a time.”