Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Spring/Summer 2015.
The curated self.
On a leisurely Sunday afternoon, we might find ourselves by a friend’s pool, passionately discussing projects and ideas and letting our legs dangle in the water. And then, for a brief moment or two, we invariably resurface from this temporary idyll to fire up our smartphones and check if everyone else is having an equally wonderful time – only to find them surfing the waves off Byron Bay or capturing the riot of colours at Lake Retba. And there it is, once again: instant Instagram envy.
Whether it’s for sharing special moments or everyday activities – Instagram provides the perfect stage for showcasing our curated selves for the world to see, occasionally embellished by the odd visual tweak or two. Or have we always celebrated every quick coffee break with a careful arrangement of flowers, vegan banana bread and perfectly aligned cutlery?
Cut-outs and vintage fashion magazines.
At the same time, Instagram is more than a mere stage for ego stroking – the platform has also revolutionized the art world. Hitherto dominated by art dealers, galleries, and trade magazines, who steered the discourse and defined trends, the art market has become more democratic thanks to social media, allowing the audience to have their say. A shining example of this movement is photographer Kalen Hollomon who managed to attract a cool 60,000 followers in a flash: his cut-outs, culled mostly from vintage fashion magazines, bridge the gap between high fashion and street culture while questioning realities. For Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Spring/Summer 2015 the New York-based artist decided to play with the event’s schedule and celebrity list, bringing the most influential bloggers to the city for a day. We caught up with Kalen Hollomon at Neni Berlin for an interview.
Collage and photography.
How would you describe the art you do on Instagram?I think it’s kind of a combination of collage and photography. I love to mix opposites, something that’s very masculine mixed with something feminine, for instance. Or putting a pair of heels on a regular guy who’s just wearing a t-shirt and jeans. For me, it speaks to what’s inside that person, what’s beneath the surface. You see the person and think: “Oh, I know this guy.” And then you see that he has these fabulous heels on and wonder about who he really is.
You grew up in Boulder, Colorado, then lived in LA before moving to New York a few years ago. What did you expect from living in NYC?
I had imagined that I would move to NYC and then my girlfriend and I would become a really successful photography team – but we actually never took any photographs.
How did the art thing happen instead?
I’ve been making art forever. I was making bigger paintings and larger sculptures back in LA. But when I moved to New York I had less space, so I started making collages and photos. There were collages and images I wanted to make, but I couldn’t afford to make them or even find the material. So that’s how the photo-collaging started to happen. I also love the spontaneity of it: taking a real life situation and throwing something in there to change it – creating a one-time collage that only exists in that image.
Kalen Hollomon's creative process.
Could you give me an insight into your creative process? Do you always have cut-outs on you?Whenever I’m going through magazines I’ll pick out images that turn me on, and then I’ll keep them with me. Just in case.
It’s a fun way to create something when I’m out in the world. It changes the way you look at it, I’m always figuring out collage scenarios.
Tell me about how and when you had the idea of using Instagram for your art.
It was a natural evolution. I started Instagram a long time ago, posting just a handful of drawings and little cartoons, and then didn’t post for a long time. Then one of my friends raved about Instagram, and I started posting more and more – and it started to gain momentum. More people started viewing it and getting behind it, giving me positive feedback. At the beginning it was just sketches and cartoony drawings. The first cut-out was a drawing held up over a guy carrying cat food.
What’s the most annoying subject on Instagram?
Probably fashion cut-out stuff (laughs). I hate when I’m following someone and they post pictures of friends and family when I don’t know them. But that’s my own fault for following people, I guess.