For its eighth consecutive year covering NYC Fashion Week, VIE has invited fine art photographer Aranka Israni to create a special feature by contributing her unique perspective on fashion.
Born in Seattle, Israni has lived in Toronto, Miami, Dubai, Los Angeles, London, and New York City. For a photographer whose work is now beginning to catch the eye of collectors and galleries, she is remarkably calm. “I love the moments between moments,” Israni says. “My work is deeply grounded in the reflective process of meditation and representations of energy in transition from one expression of emotion to another. I’m excited to see how this is reflected during Fashion Week.”
A true artist is the one who can both recognize and render the radiance of a moment through an epiphany. For Israni, lifting the veil to reveal the mysteries of life is a way of life—one that she shares through her lens. “Up until now, my photographic work has been focused on the nude form,” she explains. “This week will be a sharp contrast to that as I examine the veils of the body—fabrics, fashion, and design. My photographs will be a retrospective of the final Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center. The images will explore the question: Do the veils of fashion cover and mask our essence or do they enhance and reflect our internal?”
VIE: WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT LIVING IN NEW YORK CITY?
Israni: NYC … I love that every day is bound to be different; that there’s always a new discovery to be made around each street corner; the freedom to be what you want and the sense of anonymity that it supports; the no-nonsense attitude and the vibrancy and energy it sends running through your veins when you ride its waves.
WHEN DID YOU START TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS?
I started shooting when I was in my early teens while living in Dubai, a place that I didn’t really connect with. I did, however, have a connection to nature, so I would spend my afternoons after school on a beach photographing sunsets. I must have done that almost every day for about three years. At that time, I used the medium of photography as a tool to lead me to either painting or drawing.
WHY DID YOU BEGIN SHOOTING PROFESSIONALLY?
Aside from the one-off class in college and in my masters, I didn’t pick up a camera seriously until about 2008. I’m a painter and live video artist, but have recently found a new voice through photography. I desired the body to be the subject for my work as I discovered this new medium. One day I just said, “OK, let’s try.” After exploring so many different mediums and methods of creative expression, I wanted to explore this one again. I quickly realized that I had a knack for it and I immediately knew that I wanted to photograph people, bodies, and movements. All my fine art works up to that point were all extremely abstract, and I needed something to connect me back to humanity.
WHAT CAPTIVATES YOU ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHING THE NAKED FORM?
Bringing the internal external and the beauty of raw vulnerability. There is so much more, but that is for the photographs to tell.
YOU HAVE LIVED AROUND THE WORLD. HOW HAS THE PERSPECTIVE OF “PLACE” CONTRIBUTED TO YOUR ART?
It’s given me the gift of a universal perspective—fluidity, adaptability. One could say that place and culture influence absolutely everything: the body, nature, art, politics, thinking, architecture and so on—so what you see on the outside will be effected by that which is on the outside. On the flip side, removing external influences, the body carries our internal world, our essence—which I think has a greater influence on our movements.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BEHIND-THE-LENS PERSPECTIVE OF FASHION WEEK.
I want to capture truth and beauty and go beyond the surface. Fashion Week couldn’t be more of a polarity from my studio work and I’m curious about the contrast. The artwork I make is on so much more of an intimate level, usually in studio and a one-on-one experience. I have been asking myself about the fabric that covers the human form. Does it cover and mask our essence, or does it enhance and bring out the interior? I think the experience of photographing fashion week will allow me to live those questions.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPH THAT YOU HAVE TAKEN?
No favorites. It’s every one I’ve ever made; and will be the next one that I make.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR FORMAL TRAINING IN THE ARTS.
I received a master’s degree from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Prior to that I was at the University of Southern California School of Fine Arts and Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.
THE ENERGY IN THE MOMENT THAT THE CAMERA CLICKS; HOW DOES THAT FEEL?
Although intuitive, it’s magical. Each time I see something that I’ve never seen before and have an experience that I’ve never experienced before. It’s always different.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PASTIMES?
My hobby and passion is making art, which I have the privilege to call my profession. I also love music, concerts, dance, circus/aerial acrobatics, yoga, and pilates.
YOU HAVE A SHOW COMING UP IN FRANCE THIS SUMMER. TELL US ABOUT IT.
It will be at the Anne Clergue Galerie in Arles, France, from July 1 to August 29. It’s going to be my first solo photography show. No final curatorial decisions have been made yet, but it will be based on my black and white nude reflection pieces.