Feb 27, 2015 @ 15:00 am Words: Megan Nolan
Shantanu Starick is a photographer in the midst of a grand experiment. Shantanu has worked all over the world, citing an infatuation with human diversity as his primary inspiration- a self confessed inability to focus on “just one story”. A compulsion to capture the widest possible range of experience has informed his expansive career, a compulsion also necessary to facilitate the project he is currently engaged in, The Pixel Trade. For over two years, he has neither spent nor received money, instead working towards an aim of travelling to all seven continents solely through bartering. Shantanu seeks out receptive participants and exchanges his photography for the necessary food, shelter and travel expenses he needs to keep afloat and keep moving. The nature of the projects he has become involved in is pleasingly varied, from lookbooks for fashion brands to food photography for restaurateurs, to exquisite five day portraits of the complete wedding experience (not only the glossy kisses but the mates sneaking a fag and helping to put up fairy lights). Part of the Pixel Trade is forging lasting connections with certain areas and communities which lead to further trades, and Shantanu has made extensive relationships within Ireland. In 2013 in the Aran Islands he photographed the artist Fiona Hallinan’s fascinating site-specific art project “Heterodyne” which seeks to score journeys and roads with original compositions. Part of what makes his project so singular is the reciprocal respect and admiration so visibly exchanged between he, the service provider, and the would-be customers.
Money is a funny thing. Being without money is a barrier to experience in the most obvious ways- a lack of ability to travel, to eat, to wholly participate in society in the ways you wish to. But having money is a barrier to other kinds of experience- we can’t conflate the two situations as comparable, of course, but they are worth looking at together in the context of Shantanu’s project. Having a comfortable amount of money at all times removes the visceral need for human interaction; which is part of why we all covet it so much. We don’t want to need one another. Being self-sufficiently financially secure removes the necessity for community and reliance. You can very easily move through the world without ever revealing yourself to another person if you have enough money, because you will be able to socialise and consume to the exact degree you decide upon, without ever troubling anyone else.
Removing the concept of money from your life entirely strikes me as bravely tiring- some of what makes having money attractive is its ability to allow us to take respite from society when we don’t feel like being at the mercy of external whims. To make a commitment to live without that barrier is a beautiful and resilient act, one which declares very clearly a belief that humanity is essentially nurturing and good. To not only rely on the accommodation of strangers, but also your own ability to be perpetually open to them, and to new experiences and places, is an inherently redemptive and hopeful position to take. We’re lucky to be able to view Shantanu’s photographs of his trades to document that position.
Tags: Design, Art, Photography
Feb 27, 2015 @ 15:00 am Words: Megan Nolan
I first saw Aisling’s work when she was the fashion editor of Mongrel magazine. Her work with photographer Rich Gilligan was so anachronistic, so completely itself, that I was surprised it was Irish. At the time, Irish fashion shoots seemed homogenised to a certain extent- either blatantly commercial or often following a consistently ethereal, neutral theme. Aisling’s styling and vision were a blunt alternative to what was overly-familiar. They stared right back at you from the page, confrontationally- steeped in contexts and attitudes so unlike what i had thought of fashion as being that they made me tear them out and stick them on my walls.
Aisling fell into styling accidentally, having been invited to work on a shoot and finding that it was a perfect confluence of her varied interests. She has gone on to work as a creative director and consultant for countless brands, designers and shows, as well as curating and spearheading her own projects. In 2011 she moved into editing and launched Thread Magazine, a bi-annual fashion publication incorporating interviews with designers and artists. Thread is a gorgeous thing, notable for its starkly beautiful covers and haunting photography as well as the obvious and unusual quality of its writing.
It seems to come up a lot that Aisling has remained based in Dublin; people are understandably surprised that someone with her evident instinct for what she does has not jumped ship to somewhere more typically associated with fashion. But the rhythm of Dublin seems to be a part of what makes her career as enviably varied as it is. Our relative smallness means that there is a try-it-and-see culture which doesn’t necessarily fly in other cities. Creative communities are fluid and interconnected, and most importantly supportive. Different sectors are more proximate to one another- and when one sees a person like Aisling’s talent at work they consider how they can build a relationship with it, even if it’s not immediately obvious.
This atmosphere also means that when there is real hunger for something new, the decision to build it together from the ground up- rather than moving to somewhere it is already established-can create whole new reserves of dedicated artists and creatives, whole new banks of inspiration, whole new communities. With each person cutting pictures out of Thread and sticking them on their walls, there’s another realisation that you can do what you love anywhere; that you can create the culture you desire, instead of finding it.
Tags: Design, Art, Fashion