It is one thing to look at an editorial image, another to step right inside of it. Photographer Elena Rendina takes viewers into her world with a special installation at London’s Gazelli Art House. Offering guests a sensory experience of a fashion moment, Rendina covers an entire room in swaths of leopard print to create a monochromatic environment that encourages interaction. From textured violins to animal print vases each element of the space provides another opportunity to touch, play and revel in the unique setting. If the fanciful, patterned imagery looks familiar it should; the set made for a spectacular editorial starring Gwen Loos. We caught up with the artist to talk inspirations, the joy of pattern and the ins and outs of her latest exhibition.
The exhibition is centered around the home, how do you feel your piece reflects that theme?
I wanted to create something out of the ordinary, imaginary worlds of wilderness and nature quietly invading the tame environment of one’s home.
What was the most challenging / interesting part of putting together this particular installation?
I think the most challenging part of the installation was to be able to captivate the interest of the viewer. Yes, it is uncommon to see a room covered in leopard, but if you pay attention there are many other things going on. When people enter the room they are surprised straight away- a room covered in leopard fabric! But then you look at it in detail and you see the head of a woman staring at you, and another one crying silver tears, a small porcelain dog who lost his eyes, and another one playing with a hula-hoop, a pair of guns with gold gems, and shoes on the floor. The habitant of the house just left the room and also left the music on.
Guests are allowed to interact with the space – what would you say is the most surprising reaction to the piece?
I like the idea of people being able to enter my “world”. I wasn’t sure what sort of reaction to expect. Everyone was surprised when entering the room and left it smiling which is great. What I appreciate the most is that most viewers told me they couldn’t leave the room and loved standing in it. But definitely the best reaction is a woman who took a picture of herself dancing in the room.
Why leopard print?
I love animals and I’ve always been obsessed with animals prints in general.But working with the leopard print was also a sort of challenge as it is often associated with “vulgar” or “tacky” taste, so I wanted to do something different with it, putting it in another context.
What makes the experience at the Gazelli different from simply viewing this concept in a magazine?
It is very different to see your work printed in a magazine, or to see it taking life in a gallery. A print is two-dimensional and as much as a picture can captivate your attention, it is a very different feeling to have people to actually experience your creation.
I put a lot of work in the production of my images, and the set is often 70% of it. I have a very specific vision and it is important for me that every element in the picture is right. When I first created the set for the shoot, I realized I needed to make it more than just a nice set for a photo shoot. I finally had the opportunity when I met with Mila Askarova, the gallerist at Gazelli Art House; she immediately thought about creating a proper installation inside the Gallery.
You utilize pattern a great deal in your work – what is it about print that you find meaningful or inspiring?
I am not sure… When I was little my parents had a few posters of the Austrian painter Hundertwasser hanging in the house and I probably looked at them too much! But I also like all sort of colour palette, paper and paint catalogues. I like to look at all different shades and mix them together.
What do you hope viewers walk away from this piece with?