Friday, June 1, 2012

Bonami display mannequins

I was invited yesterday to the showroom of this display mannequins business in Aalter Belgium. I have known of their work and their exquisite designs of (window-dressing) modeling 'dolls' already years ago, but I never imagined such an alien worlds aesthetically exquisite impact this venue would have upon me. In less than an hour I must have shot almost 200 frames and still couldn't stop. It was rather warm and humid during the whole day and my carrying of several kgs of photo-shooting gear made me feel sweaty and miserable. Nevertheless I continued the shoot. The Bonamis have their showroom extend over two floors (ground and first), and have created some interesting spaces in a building that used to be a gym before they acquired it in their business. Space lighting would only turn on when they sensed your movement, which is kind of nice and 'green', as it saves energy for them and the rest of us. 

The Bonami display mannequins have been developed by a team of three extremely talented sculptors with a passion for exceptional work under the creative guidance and style choices of the founder and General Manager, Nico Bonami. One of the three artists was Philip Heath, the famous British doll designer, a sculptor with phenomenal talent. I said 'was' because, unfortunately, he recently passed. His work is still with us though, and, via the Bonami mannequins, it can be seen in up-market fashion shops in London, Paris, Düsseldorf and New York, to mention a few, and in the 'better' shopping areas of this country, where mostly 'old' money usually does its shopping (obviously Knokke, etc..).

You didn't have the feeling that you were stepping inside a commercial showroom at all. The objects are genuine works of modern art. The showroom was more impressive than an arts' gallery, or any contemporary museum for argument's sake. You felt like it would be a shame to use those artifacts for fashion modeling, and dress them up in pret-à-porter or haute couture pieces.

I shot the slideshow pictures and processed them later as unique frames. If you watch the show, make sure you judge each and every frame on its own merit, like no other shots were there before and after it. I believe these pictures reproduced the sphere of the moment quite well. I felt like I was surrounded by 'people' of the fourth millennium, inside worlds experiencing augmented reality, where human bodies were shaped in much more organic, functional, and aesthetically attractive ways. There was a sense of something 'erotic' in the air, and a sexual sensuality that was only spoiled by the occasional presence of fellow visitors strolling among the dolls, and shooting photographs, like I did. 

It was indeed a unique experience; a travel into the future of another... thousand years! When people might choose the color of their skin before birth, to be a saturated red and yellow and magenta or green and blue, metallic or white and, why not, transparent to let the light come through!

I would strongly recommend you to pay a visit... if it was a museum indeed, and accepted unqualified visitors. Unfortunately it isn't... it is a regular business, and only customers and prospects are welcome. In the meantime, enjoy my photographs in the slideshow, and if you happen to be the happy owner of one of these big-ass smart HDTVs that can play directly from YouTube, then do just that. The slideshow is posted on YT in HD-Ready resolution and can be replayed like nothing you seen before; also the accompanying music is superb; I borrowed it from an old Vangelis P. album, called "the City". The particular track is called Procession, it's 9'33" long, and I couldn't think of anything else to use as a soundtrack for this...

If you still wanted to see each of the photographs shown in the slide show on its own, in higher resolution, and for as long as you desired, check out my Flickr set here. 
Also, if you care to watch a slideshow of Bonami's factory and workshop in Aalter, check out this other Youtube clip, I just uploaded.

No comments: