- By Kim Saskia Alaux
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K+P : Le Manifeste Couleur
FRAC Reunion (Regional Contemporary Art Fund) present an exhibition dedicated to the work of Karine Chane Yin and Patrice Fuma Courtis : K+P : Le Manifeste Couleur. A 20 years retrospective from the very beginning of SPOON Magazine in 1996 until now. 20 years of collaboration between the photographer Patrice and stylist Karine. An occasion to see magazine’s pictures on a larger scale, organized in three thematic rooms. The two Art directors and founders of SPOON were invited in this institution in Reunion Island, to curate images from their fashion editorials.
K+P : Le Manifeste Couleur put together fashion photography from SPOON, and from other fashion magazines they initiated like Crème, ‘Twill or It’s Rouge, and collaborations with artists , photographers or publications.
Color is obviously the common thread, a subject that had always been important to them since their very beginnings, when black was ruling the 90’s and until today in SPOON New Edition. A touch of unbridled britishness from their elder collaborator : the photographer Steve Hiett, mixed with their colorful style most probably influenced by their tropical background. A very own special signature, that is visible on the pictures they curated, and exposed until the 26th of february.
Can you explain the title of your show : K+P : Le Manifeste Couleur ?
First, K+P is a logo created by Steve Hiett to symbolize our balanced creative relashionship. Then, color represent our true commitment to introduce more color in fashion images. We started in the 90’s in a very black context . Designers, magazines, photographers were really into blurry and half-tone pictures, the reality photography spirit. We were not into that, and wanted to celebrate color as a rebellion, and get away from that black conservative monomania.
We are really inspired by the work of photographers such as Helmut Newton or Guy Bourdin, moreover the very saturated color style of Steve Hiett had played an important role in our work. We have been both touch by the really flashy 80’s side of his pictures. 90’s had also seen designers who used to dare color like Issey Miyake, with who we share a lot aesthetic and human values. That exhibit shows our work as a real color manifesto.
In which context did you decide to create SPOON and how ?
We were both working in the fashion business but we couldn’t find ourselves into the traditional fashion press, we always felt like we weren’t free to express completely our vision. We won a design contest and with the 25 000 francs (approx 4000$) we earned, we bought a computer with modem and connection, instead of going on a holiday trip. It was the really beginnings of the internet in France, we launch our own website under the appellation «magazine» which was pretty new, it was one the first 100 000 websites in the world ! That is how SPOON was born. The advantage of this new media was that we avoided huge printing costs, we were finally free to express our vision of fashion we wanted and for a minimal budget. Right after that, a Luxembourg based printer contacted us, he wanted to reach fashion market, so we made a deal on a very small square format. We had paid a small deposit first and the rest of the money would come from the upcoming magazine’sales, then we went to bookshops like La Hune, WH Smith, OFR to distribute us, answer was positive, as they never saw owners of magazines in flesh trying to sell it, that’s how and when SPOON became a printed magazine.
Who are the collaborators who surround you mostly ?
Our most important collaboration is probably the one with Steve Hiett, we first met in Paris and became roomates. He was already a famous photographer at the time but he is also an amazing Art director, he helped us a lot with a loads of clever advices. His easy going, anglo-saxon and rock & roll attitude (Steve was once a pop singer) worked pretty well with our color approach, multiracial and cosmopolite way to see things. He first did a beauty shooting for SPOON VOL1 – 1996 and ever since, he is doing all SPOON covers without any exception.
In our collaborations, even if we were working with iconic names of the business such as Steve or David Bailey, Hans Feurer, James Moore…we always felt that it was important to work with newcomers like Thomas Brun, Peter C Christensen or Lars Botten. Since we restarted SPOON in 2014 we continued that way collaborating with Ollie Ma’ or Andrew Lyman, new photographers whose SPOON were their first printed editorials. Supporting young creators and photographers is part of SPOON’s DNA, we work as well with young fashion designers : Christine Phung, Naco Paris, or Cunnington & Sanderson. We want to give help to get better exposure, and to cultivate these relationships on the long term, we want to follow their evolutions. The “one shot” policy with the last super hot photographer/designer of the season is really not our cup of tea ! That is why our baseline is now : “SPOON is an ad-free fine-Art and slow fashion photography magazine”. As an example, the Artist/photographer Jean-François Lepage is in the magazine since the second issue : SPOON Vol 2 – 1997 it was his first fashion pictures after a 10 years pause then he went back to Art again lately. We got all his “périodes” in our issues, and we are happy to remain one of it’s favorite media no matter what he brings in, drawings, collages or fashion photography.
We have received several proposals for making this exhibition to travel, but our main immediate concern, is to get ready for our next issue. It’s always a challenge, finding the right theme, the creative and financial ressources to make it happen, it’s always a bit stressful, but we love that, and that’s our job since a couple of decades :-) !
Download exhibition catalogue French / English text