Famously described by Susan Sontag in her 1964 essay Notes on ‘Camp’ as “a sensibility (as distinct from an idea)”, the appreciation of camp was born out of artifice and opulence, a vulgar fascination with theatrical exaggeration. And while it has long been tied up with LGBTQI culture, it has become a compelling way to convey messages without limits. “To me, camp is a very powerful thing,” says Phillip Prokopiou. “It’s a form of satire – a way to exaggerate and ridicule things that are very serious.” Prokopiou, a South Africa-born, London-based photographer behind an eponymous studio, which he co-founded with his partner-in-life-and-art Panagiotis Poimenidis, has long been fascinated with the power of kitsch to communicate our deepest hopes, fears and fantasies – whether they manifest in the form of a moustachioed Virgin Mary (stage name: Virgin Xtravaganzah) sitting chastely in the glow of ‘Gawd’’s glory, or an otherworldly extraterrestrial gazing into the distance.
“The main issues in fashion currently are gender and identity, and a more inclusive image of beauty,” says Alessia Glaviano. “It partially comes from Instagram – Instagram has made a big change.” It’s forward-thinking comment for someone known for her work on world-famous print magazine Vogue Italia, but then Glaviano’s also known for pushing the boundaries. In addition to being senior photo editor on Vogue Italia, she’s web editor of vogue.it, and she’s also responsible for PhotoVogue – a curated online platform on which emerging photographers can submit their work. And in addition she’s director of the Photo Vogue Festival, the first-ever international festival of fashion photography, which is now back for the second time in Milan. “Well it went very well last year,” she says. “So here we are again.” Then there’s Vogue Italia itself. A very different beast to its more mainstream counterparts in the US and elsewhere, it sets the standard for cutting-edge fashion photography. It’s known for its adventurous and sometimes dark imagery, giving photographers such as Steve Meisel, Miles Aldridge, Ellen von Unwerth, …
Growing up surrounded by oppression in a country where violent religious and ethnic clashes were commonplace and close at hand, Suryajaya was constrained by strict traditional and conservative values that condemned homosexuality. He needed to get out. He turned 18, alone, on a flight bound for the United States, leaving behind his family and his old life in Indonesia.
With a Lebanese-American mother and an Emirati father, Farah Al Qasimi has lived much of her life between the United States and Abu Dhabi, where she grew up. Now completing a Master of Fine Arts at Yale, she is still oscillating between her two home nations, and producing work that explores home, belonging, representation and clarity.
Spearheaded by Vogue Italia’s senior photo editor, Alessia Glaviano, the inaugural Photo Vogue Festival got off to an impressive start, says curator Federica Chiocchetti