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 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
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