Bettina Rheims | Bonkers – A Fortnight in London
Bonkers! A Fortnight in London is a series of portraits by Bettina Rheims shot in 2013 in which the photographer explores her usual themes of femininity, self-expression and sexuality.
Rheims is has used Paris as a setting for many of her works as well as Shanghai, now she’s moving to London and its eccentricities. The series shows the models, actresses and other beauties on the go—in between catwalks, concerts and parties of the English capital.
The artist and her protagonists plunge into a surreal and dull world of various visual patterns, erotic plays and the discovery of ones femininity. The large scale portraits and nudes show some women, whose societal as well as medial perception and reputation can at best be described as “It-Girls”. The portrayal of these women plays with stereotypes, consciously exaggerates clichés and challenges the deviation between their images in the media and their individual personality. The works are characteristically shaped by a noticeable intimacy and proximity with the artist and the models, in which Rheims manages to discover womanhood in new light and to portray it in a special, honest perspective.
The fashion accessories and costumes thrown shown in the series are by none other than Vivienne Westwood. Bettina Rheims also collaborated with stylist Sascha Lilic and the models Amber Le Bon, Harriet Vernet, Mary Charteris, Portia Freeman and Morwenna Lytton Cobbold.
CAMERA WORK has showed the series as an exhibition and publishing house Steidl released an eponymous photo book “Bonkers! A Fortnight in London”
[divider]About Bettina Rheims [/divider]
Bettina Rheims was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine near Paris in 1952. Her photography career began in the late 1970s following a short work experience as model, at which she consequently became interested in focussing on femininity and all its erotic and voyeuristic facets. Amongst collaborations with prestigious fashion magazines and advertising agencies – for which she photographed Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer – she also published several photo books such as “Female Trouble” (1991) and “Chambre Close” (1992). With the series “Modern Lovers” and the book project “Kim”, which was created in close cooperation with the transsexual Kim Harlow, she developed an interest in artistically examining the subject of transsexuality and transgender. With her project “Modern Lovers” she refers to the play with androgyny.
Rheims is convinced that every person carries both, a female as well as a male, sides. The exhibition “Gender Studies” which was also shown in 2012 at CAMERA WORK, promotes acceptance for the transgender and shows in her portraits of models like the Australian Andrej Pejic that sexual flexibility supports the expression of ones individual identity.
Her hometown Paris awarded Rheims the 1994 Grand Prix de la Photographie, a recognition for the visual discussion of project issues like sexual orientation, but also for her erotic electrifying production of the female body. The impressive work of Bettina Rheims has been shown at international exhibitions. The artist works and lives in Paris.