You know what they say – “diamonds are formed under pressure” – and in this age of growing political and social pressure and stress, it comes to no surprise that we turn to the entertainers and activists in our community for change, direction and, above all, hope.
This is what PYLOT Magazine’s Michelle Webb and Max Barnett have embraced and utilised in their impressive CRYSTALLIZED project, individually bedazzling some of the scene’s biggest and most loved names with thousands of crystals to immortalise queerdom through living art.
Premiering on Alright Darling, the video features over 100,000 crystals on the likes of Joey A. Frenette-Wood, Eppie Conrad, Andrew Walter Burt, Peter Kinane, James Ross, Johanna Londinium, Munroe Bergdorf, Imma Kent, Alùn Davies, Tamzin Lillywhite, Cairo Harris and Luke Harris. We had a chat with both project directors to get to grips with the beauty behind the video:
What ignited inspiration to create this project?
Michelle loves to push the boundaries of makeup by using unconventional materials in order to embellish the face and body. Distorting the ideals of beauty, with excessive and time consuming processes. With this in mind we were inspired by the limitless possibilities of transformation, from this CRYSTALLIZED began.
What’s the message behind it all?
This work is a celebration of the very things that inspired us to shoot the project. We want the viewers to see a piece that is exciting, but also ask questions about beauty and how it can be enjoyed in various forms.
How many crystals did you guys get through?
About 100,000, between 7,000 – 10,000 per person.
How on earth did you stick them down?
With a lot of patience.
What was the selection process for the models you used?
The models are people we have worked with before/are friends with. It was vital to us that they were excited by the project. Most importantly, they had to be people whom we could happily spend a minimum of twelve hours with in close quarters!
How important for you was it to use every corner of the LGBTQ+ community for the project?
Firstly we think it is important to note that we do not think we are representing everyone in this vast community in which we are a part of, as there is so much more to our community than what we see in this video. It was not a conscious decision to work specifically with people from the LGBTQ+ community, the models in CRYSTALLIZED are people who have, and continue to, inspire us creatively.
How did you retain the integrity of certain drag queen’s styles during this?
Each of the models aesthetics were taken into consideration when designing the looks. This was very important for us, as we like to work in a way that is inclusive and respectful.
How can art act as a social tool in 2017?
It is a fascinating time to be making art right now. We are at the beginning of a time in the modern world, that we cannot yet comprehend how things will evolve and change.
Clearly right now the use of social platforms is an immersive and exciting way to spread our messages, and we feel that a lot of art that is being made at the moment, is in a way, a response to the environment that we are a part of.What we have made here is light hearted and fun, it has serious undertones like a lot of art should do, but most importantly this is a celebration of colour and diversity.
We think that, especially right now, a lot of art is being made in order to make huge statements about different geo-political issues that we face as a global community. It is an amazing time for artists to be making those statements, but we also want to remind people that we can enjoy art, even when we are in times of uncertainty.