Vanessa Beecroft: “I’m repulsed by pop culture”
Ms. Beecroft, when did you first become interested in the female form?
There was always this obsession of female representation in me. When I was growing up in Malcesine on Lake Garda, Italy, there was a group of girls living close by and together we would draw images of our dolls with red hair, freckles, green eyes. They were supposed to be like photographs and they even had captions... We drew several of these photo albums every single day for three or four years. That was the first time I was very conscious of the fact that I was only interested in girls and women in terms of representation. Even when I went to art school, I was fascinated by the nude models. But in Italy at that time, there was a lot of censorship towards figurativism so that made things difficult.
Is that why your early work featured mostly live models instead of hand-drawn or sculpted figures?
Yes, at the time, I was very young and I felt that if I wanted to have an impact on society and in the art world, using those skills like drawing or sculpting, I couldn’t. I wasn’t able to because of this censorship of non-conceptual art in the early nineties. If you practiced any kind of figurativism, you were deemed some sort of nihilistic and conservative artist. I did not want to do that, so I immediately constrained myself and decided not to.
Joshua Ramus: “I’m not saying that it’s easy”
Mr. Ramus, what concerns you about the architecture industry today?
Our profession has stagnated in how it deals with the advancement of both individuals and firms. Opportunity is rarely based on capability, but primarily on experience: “I’ve done so many hours, I’ve paid my dues and I’ve met certain qualification requirements.” And that’s more endemic of American practice than it is European practice.
So what was it like for you working at OMA in Rotterdam in your early days?
I benefited greatly from Rem Koolhaas’ commitment to ability over experience. Rem provided us with opportunities far beyond our years, opportunities that generated a whole diaspora of ex-OMA firms currently doing exceptional work. But in general, young architects today are met with limited prospects within the traditional practice model, and will likely still be considered young 30 years from now. Alternatively, you can find your own methods of practice; explore your capabilities. I’m not saying that it’s easy, but there are many recent examples of successful young architects who have established their own unique courses of practice.