Interview with Formento + Formento
To us your work is remarkably unusual. Not only by its somehow hyper-cinematic radiance, but also by the uncanny sense in which time appears somewhat frozen. Your photography really has a distinct footprint. When one looks at one of images, you say that's a "formento2". Has this evolved over time, did you come to it organically?
The F&F signature has evolved organically. In the beginning we were mainly focusing on fashion photography and advertising later, but we finally felt that the images that came out of it – for us - had no transcendence. Thanks to my partner Richeille's amazing art direction and impeccable styling to the strong lighting of our cynical and ambiguous heroes woven into complicated plots and an underlying existentialist philosophy, we always strive for the work to be timeless. We see everything through the filter of an atmosphere we create. The somberness of the stories stems from our disenchantment with the present times and the past. Or maybe our work is simply a love letter to a culture and a place.
Can you define the impact of your previous work in fashion photography?
We are grateful to have worked in fashion photography, because thanks to this genre we understood how styling, hair and makeup, the glitz, glitter and glamour of it all come together. When we started to incorporate these skills into our personal work, it just clicked. This is what we want to do for the rest of our lives, express ourselves and share the world of Formento to leave a body of work that will hopefully leave a lasting impression.
What was your inspiration for the TWA shoot?
With our new series, "Nostalgia," we take a few years to explore sentimental longings, feelings of joy, the wistful affection we have for the past, and for a time or place that exudes sadness or happiness. The TWA shoot is part of that.
In 2001, I was asked to shoot a commercial in the TWA terminal at JKF International Airport. At the time, there was glorious chaos there, and I was heartbroken when the assignment fell through. That same year, the terminal was closed when the airline ceased operations, and remained unused for years (except when it was briefly reopened to shoot scenes for Steven Spielberg's "Catch Me If You Can"). The TWA Hotel, an architectural icon, is located in the former TWA terminal at JFK International Airport, designed by Finnish-American architect and furniture designer Eero Saarinen. When the terminal opened in 1962 (under the direction of business magnate and then-TWA owner Howard Hughes), it was an icon of the Jet Age and the glamour of 1960s air travel; today it is one of the world's most significant examples of mid-century modern architecture.
The terminal became protected when it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. MCR Hotels and Morse Development were awarded the contract to transform the historic landmark into a hotel for the 21st century, which opened May 2019. We were so happy to get access; it took us only 20 years. In my view the opportunity proved to be a perfect match to what we are up to with Nostalgia generally, of which – besides the TWA shoot - you can see much more here as some sort of a preview.