I met Alan Walt in 2007 when he contacted me via a recommendation from Heidi Erdmann of The Photographers Gallery ZA. Alan creates a somewhat controversial or abstract “christmas” card or seasons greetings type card to his clients at the end of each year. He strikes me as the kind of person who likes to ruffle feathers, challenge perceptions and so on and he uses this opportunity to do just that with his clients.
Previous cards had not been related to issues pertaining to sexuality or gender specifically. I got the feeling that he got a kick out of challenging my notions of the subject since it was the subject we would deal with for his commission if he wanted to collaborate with me as a creative.
I can’t remember exactly how the final concept came up. He wanted to incorporate his company name “AWA” into the product in a subliminal way and we discussed references and ideas and decided to use the [taboo] oriental art of Karada (rope tying) as the vehicle.
I sketched my idea, we confirmed the look and went ahead with the job.
I generally work alone, I prefer it since communicating my creative vision, shoot process, etiquette with nude models or trying to maintain my patience with others working on my set frustrates me.
Alan wanted to be present at the shoot which I found totally unnecessary and purely voyeuristic as apposed to useful (he did not attend).
The shoot took place on a small budget, it was before I had my own studio and I shot it in my lounge using a mix of friends, acquaintances and family members who had willing accepted my request for them to pose for a group nude portrait all the while tied into a rope harness.
I sourced the rope from a local rope supply store in Lakeside, Cape Town and incorporated garments with fabric that would be a little reminiscent of a kimono lifted up to expose the body underneath it.
The tying process was a struggle,- it takes a while to create such an end result and with 5 models one can’t make the first overly tight while she has to wait for a good two hours still until the shoot commences. I did this alone and had an amazing amount of patience from the 5 women.
The end result was good and very close to the initial sketch of the concept. Below is the final image.
I shot the images digitally, this was my second year working with my first digital camera and was also at a time when I was still working at least 50% with my film cameras.
Alan put together a small amount of text which appeared on the back of the card. When I read over it now, 8 years later I’m surprised I agreed to it.
I shot a small series of details at the end of the shoot which I’ve only selected and messed around with now (below).
I like the strong graphic play between the rope and the body shape.