We spoke with Dazed Club member Sara Carpentieri on how identity, gender expression, and technology coalesce through her work, in particular in her recent photo story titled ‘Wild Things’. She touches on some of her recent and enduring influences, and cites queer spaces and clubs as foundational spaces to inspire her work and for us to explore our own identities.
My work focuses a lot on gender expression, technology and the way we can express our identities through our environment, creating new ones that feel like home both off and online and also within our own heads. My recent photo story called 'Wild things' is a play on Where the Wild Things are with styling references from the 1979 'The Warriors'. The film itself is a great example of how certain tribes and gangs perform to others and show how dress and clothing can make us part of something.
My own interpretation of this focuses on a made up world where we can still use playful dress to express and find our way in the world, even if this is our own made up world.
Play is a really important part of dress for me and it helps me understand my own expression, especially gender expression and identity. These spaces can be found in the everyday for me but also in the queer club world where club kids, performers and artists invent their own way of dressing to flow and move through these spaces.
I like to focus on a theme when I start storyboarding and then go towards film, TV, and the feelings I want to project into my work. During a shoot I like to already have an idea of what the colour, lighting and composition is going to look like so in a way its like I'm editing as I go along in the space itself. When I work with other creatives in the space its good to see their creative process working with mine and suggesting different ideas to each other rather than sticking to certain ideas or looks.
In post production I like to focus on the light and colour again within photoshop and lightly enhance those parts of the photo and allow the models to really be the focus in the space.
Working with Guilia I wanted to create a world with the clothes that replicated these fictional worlds. The amazing crown was handmade by Guilia out of cardboard and denim which links back into the DIY, playful elements in the films it was inspired by, especially Where The Wild Things Are with the making and crowing of Max as 'the king of the wild things'. These scenes in these fictional worlds inspired and comforted me a lot as a child and following through into adulthood, in these worlds you can recreate yourself with your chosen families and you can be the king of that world and escape from reality. The jewellery which was perfect for the vision of this shoot was made by a good friend @balubalou, who uses a variety of pearls, metals, coins, stones and bones from small animals that were found as roadkill. They are both beautiful and haunting and feel very precious and symbolic when holding them in your hands. There's also some amazing vintage pieces found on sites like eBay and charity shops from Miu Miu and Dilara Findikoglu which often have very playful but dark elements in their pieces, creating both whimsical and theatrical worlds.
I feel inspired by what's happening around me and the people I surround myself with. A lot of the spaces I like to replicate come from meeting others like me in queer club and music spaces. I like the connections found in those rooms and how both me and my friends collectively dress and present ourselves, creating these personas and alter egos that bring out so much confidence and certainty in ourselves. It's where we get to experiment with fabrics and textures and create things that you wouldn't see in everyday life, we can be playful with our dress and with each other.
Seeing queer spaces from the past is also a huge inspiration and I recently went to the Nan Goldin exhibition 'This Will Not End Well' at Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam where instead of photos placed on walls, her work was shown on different slideshows inside curtained rooms within the space. I've always been a huge Nan Goldin fan because she always photographed worlds that were part of her and the friends that created their own worlds. I always feel transported back into those spaces when I look at her work, they are so honest and beautiful and she really captures people in their truest forms, you can tell the people being photographed are used to and comfortable with her. They are always the stars of the show in her photos.I always want to try and replicate those spaces that past photographers have documented and merge these themed together with my own experience in the spaces I've crested for myself.