Unimpressed And Still Existingby Eyal de Leeuw | 10.09.15
Please meet Blasé – a project about jackets, plastic bags, cigarettes and people. A visual anthropological diary conducted by Hadas Zucker, a young creative professional who divides her time between Shanghai and Tel Aviv. Hadas, familiar to the Tel Avivan readers from her fashion brand ZUCKER (together with her sister Einav) joined me for a long distance chat about the meaning of Blasé, Michel Houellebecq’s attitude and life in the futuristic Shanghai.
Hi Hadas, How are you?
I’m super good, actually, a non Blasé day.
Where are you now?
I just came back from a weekend in a beautiful island in South Korea. Funnily, it’s called Honeymoon island, cause a lot of couples go there do spend their honeymoon – it has beautiful nature and outrageous Korean raw food, like huge abalones, sea creatures and dotted quail eggs. Maybe that’s why i’m off the Blasé vibe for now.
When did you come up with this project?
I started the project a few months ago, around March 2015. It was a after a long winter, which is quite tough here in Shanghai. My friends and I were suffering from two big problems – exhaustion and lack of love, which are quite typical to big fast paste cities. Nevertheless the idea of the Blasé attitude and visualization of it was in my mind for a long time.
What did attract you in this term Blasé?
It started from reading the work of George Simmel “Metropolis and mental life” (1903). In his work, he is actually naming the phenomena of the Blasé as being one’s technique to deal with the overwhelming of stimulus you encounter in the urban environment. What is interesting for me was to see whether the Blasé attitude – being indifferent to whatever around you because of the intensification of things – is still relevant in the 21 century.
How is the term relevant today?
Naturally I discovered from all the intimate encounters that I had with people, that it’s actually getting more and more cultivated in our culture. Especially with the internet boom, technology and the democratization of tools for self expression, the massive amount of content and images we are exposed to. One would imagine it will create diversity and variety- but ironically, what it generates is a homogenous assortments of archetypes and identities.
What did attract you about the (in)famous Houellebecq posture which is copied in your photography?
I found the iconic portrait of Michelle Houellebecq quite symbolic in the sense that it represent the urban struggle in a way which takes on the crisis of modern urban life. The book cover features M.H wearing a sloppy jacket, holding a plastic bag and smoking a cigarette; the jacket personify the “clumsily dressed for life”, it represent the urban armour, our facade and image. The shopping bag represents commodities, the ordinary life and the world of consumptions and brands. The cigarette stands for self destruction and romantic action, and typically to China, it is still a big part of the urban and business culture here. In the same time the cigarette break, sadly but true, is still a moment of self reflection and a pause from the intensity of the happening. Inspired by all of these elements, I have started to invite people to come to my studio and asked them to bring 3 things- a jacket, a plastic bag and a cigarette. So basically I also took an autonomic action of cooperate branding of the Blasé attitude that I’m questioning myself. A scheme that allowed my to observe people’s image and behaviour, and a moment of intimate communication with them that would lead to a sincere, fragile portrait.
A Tel Avivian exploring a very French attitude in China. It is a very intimate project documenting your close friends in China and yet it is very cross-cultural. Is there a place for all these worlds?
You are totally right. It does involves a quite complex perception of all these worlds; it is actually telling me and my friends a story that is happening now in the future city Shanghai, but is also relevant to all big metropolitan cities in the world. We live in an era that there is no center, everything is on a cloud, no base. Uber-connected through media and online happening but maybe lacking or longing the simplicity of an encounter. It also refers to identities, self branding, selfies culture, and representation of oneself in brevity. That’s why all the titles of the work are simple, straight forward and telling factual dry facts about the people behind it. Immersing visual wikipedia into apathetic playful pop culture.
What’s next with the project?
So now, the project should actually begin. For me the photo series was just a kick start to discuss the Blasé attitude. I have created an online presence for it in facebook, insta and tumblr and my wish is to invite creatives, artist, academics and others to respond, collaborate and engage a visual or other experimental dialogue about it. I’m working with some friends on this now, and would like to invite others to contact me and to contribute to it; I would be happy if it will become more of a lab rather then a work of one person. Later on, there is a fashion collaboration planned for it and an exhibition; and hopefully to recreate this Blasé concept in other cities. I Hope I will be able to capture the Tel Avivian Blasé soon! but step by step- it’s should be a lab for discussion rather than a pure work of art- i’m not an artist i’m an observer and a catalyst.