10 Questions with Petra Collins in Celebration of Her New Photobook
In the past few years, we’ve seen many an image-maker having their 15 minutes of fame. And then – nothing. But the trials and tribulations of falling in and out of “hype” is something Petra Collins doesn’t have to worry about. Her earliest works honed in on the awkward transition from teenager to womanhood. It’s that snapshot in time where you find solace in your orchestrated Tumblr blogs and taking selfies in poorly-lit bathrooms. The hazy, rose-tinted lens was integral in developing the visual language of Tavi Gevinson’s Rookie magazine, and has since been pointed at some of the biggest names in the industry – Selena Gomez and Kim K included. The artist has anointed fashion magazines across the globe with a sun-kissed, dazzling glow of a female gaze distinct only to her – shooting both Selah Marley and Paloma Elsesser for the covers of 10 Magazine. She has also been a fundamental visionair (and muse) in shaping Alessandro Michele’s dream-like Gucci stratosphere. Right now though, Petra’s attention has been shifted to something a little more on the scarier side.
For the sixth edition of Baron Magazine, a photography platform exploring the space of artist’s personal stories, Collins has created her own photobook. Delving headfirst into a world of night terrors that goes much deeper than the sleep paralysis which has plagued many of her own dreams. Working for the first time in self-portraiture, Collins and her sisters form a troupe of ghoulish creatures who morph into outlandish moulds of themselves, courtesy of sculptures by Sarah Sitkin. The publication shifts the role of woman in the horror genre – flipping the female lead from being merely typecast as the sacrificial lamb who dies in the film’s opening moments. Instead, Petra portraits a lucid landscape where the sisters reclaim ownership of their bodies, Petra’s favourite part of her own being the bellybutton. “It’s satisfying,” she says. What goes through the brain of the mastermind behind embracing oneself in the most nightmarish form? We’ve posed ten questions to dig a little deeper…
Paul Toner: Who do you want to get in front of your camera (dead or alive)?
Petra Collins: I would loved to have shot Harry Dean Stanton.
PT: What’s your favourite Gucci look you wore?
PC: My MET look – nothing like some latex under a strawberry prairie dress.
PT: What song do you love playing while shooting?
PC: I can’t pick. One that has been circulating every shoot playlist is Smack a Bitch by Rico Nasty.
PT: If you were a Marvel superhero, who would you be?
PC: Jessica Jones. We share very similar traumas. lol
PT: Where do you wish you could teleport yourself?
PC: To the Balaton, 15 years ago on the hottest day of summer. Or to an alien compound.
PT: Your new book is all about nightmares – what’s the worse one you’ve ever experienced?
PC: Sleep paralysis – any dream I’ve had in it.
PT: This is also the first time you’re working with self-portraiture. What’s your favourite part of your body?
PC: My bellybutton. It’s satisfying.
PT: What’s your favourite colour?
PC: Green. My dad told me that it’s the color that humans can see the best.
PT: What are you 3 most-used emojis?
PT: If you had to listen to one Selena Gomez song on repeat for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?
PT: Can you remember the first image you ever posted on Tumblr?
PC: Probably a girl in a graveyard.
PT What’s your advice to having the perfect #HotGirlSummer?
PC: Just don’t hate yourself – that’s hot girl summer.
‘Baron’ by Petra Collins is available to buy here.