Interview: Alexandra Zorbas-Maiden
We talk to the photographer/stylist about her debut exhibition 'National Props' opening tonight at China Heights.
Alexandra Zorbas-Maiden's debut photography exhibition National Props opens tonight at China Heights Gallery in Sydney. An Australian stylist and photographer, her time spent travelling and living overseas has influenced her work. The show explores Western cities and their paradoxes — the way that urban environments are built-up and then abandoned in favour of the bigger and the better.
We spoke with Alexandra ahead of the opening.
Lucy Jones: Where did the name for your exhibition come from?
Alexandra Zorbas-Maiden: It came from my interest in signage, shopfronts, and trademarks in the urban American landscape: the things that make up a nation's identity. American culture is performative to me, in the way that it seeks to constantly re-brand, re-build and re-image itself, and the signs, facades and symbols of pop culture are like the 'props' or a backdrop to the New York moments that I have captured. As an Australian, I see these representations of American life with some objectivity, absurdity and with loving curiosity.
What's the best themed fashion shoot you've ever styled?
It was a shoot for a Romanian Magazine called Omagiu. The brief was 'Crisis' and 'China'. I worked with French photographer Chrystel Garipuy who was really abstract yet beautifully poetic in her vision. It was great to have a photographer so open to collaboration, and to work together to create a theme that was relevant and current to us. In the end, it became about the conflict between the old world China and new megapower China, with a Blade Runner warrior theme running throughout.
What's the first thing you do when you arrive in a new city?
I check out where the art galleries or concept stores are, and get there on foot.
Can you describe the last place or person that you took a photo of?
The last roll of film I developed was from my 70s Minolta camera, I was trying to get to know it again after a long hiatus. There was some really old film in there and I took it to Kangaroo Valley. I like the strange faded greenish colours that came from the expired film, and a picture I took of myself turned out pretty well actually.
Your exhibition is about paradox, so we wanted to ask you a few Either/Ors:
City or country? City now, country later.
Night or day? Day for night.
New York or Paris? Paris next.
Hotel or motel? Arts hotels.
Car or bike? A hike.
Cat or dog? Cactus.
Leaving or coming home? Leaving. Adventure awaits!
Love or lust? LOVE.
Heels or sneakers? Chunky heels or clogs all the way.
National Props opens tonight at 6pm and will run until Sunday 10 June, from 12 — 5pm. China Heights is located at L3, 16-28 Foster St, Surry Hills.
Introduction: Jerico Mandybur
Interview: Lucy Jones