Blog 1701 Mjriam Bon 1

Faces of Milan: from behind the lens of Mjriam Bon

Watching her walk along the streets of downtown Milan, elegant in her understated simplicity weaving through the alleyways of C.so Magenta and the majestic basilica of S.Marie delle Grazie, it's not difficult to understand how she became a high-profile figure of haute couture.

A face made of bustling cat­walks, flash­es, and the strictest stan­dards of beau­ty. Yet there is noth­ing cold or stand-off­ish in the broad smile that wel­comes us to her home stu­dio just a few steps from Leonardo’s Last Supper.

Although Mjri­am was born and raised in Venice her light blonde hair, facial fea­tures and name often mis­lead peo­ple. At 16 she moved to Milan and trav­elled the world as a mod­el, until mak­ing the deci­sion – a nat­ur­al one, she explains – to move to the oth­er side and express her own cre­ativ­i­ty from behind the camera’s lens. We inter­viewed her and found out about her lat­est project: 30 Shad­ows of 30 Shades of Urban Atti­tude”.

You moved from a life spent in front of the cam­era as a tal­ent­ed mod­el, to behind the cam­era, which is not a nat­ur­al step for every­one to take. What trig­gered this deci­sion?
I have always had a pas­sion for pho­tog­ra­phy. Over the years as a mod­el, I brought an ana­log cam­era with me to be able to cap­ture every­thing that fas­ci­nat­ed me: mod­els, dressers, make-up artists, the back­stage. Both posed and can­did shots. And then I would put the cam­era in my suit­case when trav­el­ling on vaca­tion or when trans­ferred around the world for work. It was only a few years ago that I decid­ed to throw cau­tion to the wind and ded­i­cate myself com­plete­ly to photography.

A very dif­fer­ent role in a field where you had worked exten­sive­ly. What were the mod­el­ling expe­ri­ences that taught you the most and helped you under­stand that pho­tog­ra­phy was your true call­ing?
My expe­ri­ence in the world of fash­ion was a career with lots of ups and downs. I began very young; some­times I was a vic­tim, falling into the trap of approval and seek­ing a stereo­type at all costs, above all in stan­dard mea­sures and size.

It was the birth of Curvy Can that changed every­thing. With a group of col­leagues, we cre­at­ed and actu­at­ed a project linked to the accep­tance of one’s self and self-aware­ness. It made a very strong media impact, espe­cial­ly on women who expe­ri­ence prob­lems linked with eat­ing dis­or­ders, anorex­ia, bulim­ia, and obe­si­ty above all. It was an over­whelm­ing expe­ri­ence that brought me to trav­el and talk about my expe­ri­ences at schools and cen­tres with the help of psy­chol­o­gists and doc­tors. From that moment on, I under­stood that I could use pho­tog­ra­phy to help others.

Through my por­traits, I seek to exalt the self-con­fi­dence of my sub­jects. From the mod­els to free-lance pro­fes­sion­als, from rock stars to the­atre actors, from noc­tur­nal trend­set­ters to house­wives. Each one has their own unique and par­tic­u­lar beau­ty. I like putting peo­ple with their back against a wall (both phys­i­cal­ly and fig­u­ra­tive­ly), with no appar­ent way out, fac­ing me. I try to make them feel com­fort­able. I let them talk to get a sto­ry, a facet of their char­ac­ter or a hid­den side of themselves.

Blog 1701 Mjriam Bon

You made a very pre­cise and dif­fi­cult deci­sion to spe­cialise in por­traits. Why?
I pre­fer por­traits because I am fas­ci­nat­ed and attract­ed by faces, by glances, and by smiles. A glance can tell you so much about someone’s whole life. I’m con­vinced that every­one should have a por­trait of them­selves to immor­talise a moment, to stop time.

Over the forth­com­ing weeks, your col­lab­o­ra­tive project with neubau eye­wear which has been ded­i­cat­ed to faces will final­ly come to light. What’s it about?
Neubau eye­wear was born in a place (the Neubau quar­ter in Vien­na) where the inhab­i­tants are dis­tin­guished by their indi­vid­u­al­i­ty and orig­i­nal­i­ty, where cre­ativ­i­ty and exper­i­men­ta­tion are a fun­da­men­tal aspect of their DNA. This sto­ry fas­ci­nat­ed me and the anal­o­gy with Milan was out­stand­ing. It reawak­ened in me an aware­ness of these same val­ues in my home­town. Hence the idea for my new pho­to­graph­ic project enti­tled 30 Shades of Urban Atti­tude”.

I was moved by a desire to immor­talise many lives and many sto­ries that make our city a hub of cre­ativ­i­ty, inno­va­tion, exper­i­men­ta­tion, pas­sion, and com­mit­ment. I select­ed 30 peo­ple who could best tell this sto­ry: 30 faces, 30 shots, 30 per­son­ae of the world of art, fash­ion, design, urban cul­ture who wear glass­es and through them become spokesper­sons for a fresh, clean, bold, and cre­ative lifestyle. Like Neubau and like Milan. 30 inter­est­ing and dif­fer­ent lives, who have in com­mon a pas­sion for what each of them does. 30 lives to be told through my lens. All in all, a social exper­i­ment that is not only pho­to­graph­ic, but also designs thoughts and expres­sions through the lens­es… of both the glass­es and the camera.

What pushed you to accept this project and what do you think of the col­lab­o­ra­tions that brands are propos­ing more and more often with artists and per­form­ers, pro­mot­ing the birth of orig­i­nal and coher­ent con­tents?
Above all, curios­i­ty. 30 Shad­ows of Urban Atti­tude” is a very inter­est­ing and effec­tive way of devel­op­ing it. Curios­i­ty push­es me to seek beyond appear­ances: a dif­fer­ent look, a light in the eyes that is sub­dued by shy­ness or by the role one plays in soci­ety. I think that if a brand does not present itself as a clas­sic client, but accepts and under­stands the authen­tic spir­it of the artist, let­ting him work freely with his own cre­ativ­i­ty, it will find a unique and high­ly effec­tive way of reach­ing its tar­get. And art has a new means of spread­ing and growing.

The phe­nom­e­non of gen­tri­fi­ca­tion is trans­for­ma­tion entire urban areas — once pop­u­lar and indus­tri­al zones – into true artis­tic and cul­tur­al dis­tricts. Which cities have inspired you the most for where you might live?
Dur­ing my career as a mod­el I trav­elled a lot. The cities that inspired me the most were Lon­don and New York. They are so dif­fer­ent from each oth­er and so dif­fer­ent from Italy, to which I am for­ev­er bound. I would go to live in New York tomor­row for the atmos­phere there and for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to suc­ceed in doing what I tru­ly believe in. How­ev­er, I remain a trav­eller with a desire to return.

Would you con­sid­er a pho­to­graph­ic project ded­i­cat­ed to cities and the cre­ativ­i­ty that is being born there­in?
At this time I am spe­cialised in por­traits because it is the thing I feel suits me best. But in the future, why not? As I said, curios­i­ty is dri­ves me, so explor­ing new paths is a nat­ur­al consequence.

What is the next project you have planned, and what would you like to work on?
I love pho­tog­ra­phy and I love the idea of being able to launch pos­i­tive mes­sages through it. My next project – which I have already begun plan­ning – will be linked to social. But at this time, I would rather not reveal any more.

11 Jan 2017 · neubau eyewear