Photographer Zuzu Valla and creative director Katarina Benko have been forming a team since 2017, when their joint professional and human journey began with a large commercial project and subsequently grew into special art projects. Since then, thanks to the same values and the search for exceptional and unique people, they have already created several joint projects, which reflect their perception of the world.
Katarina Benko came up with the idea of the "Symbiosis" project at the beginning of 2020, and after discussions and aligning with Zuzu, she started to prepare it. A pleasant and very pleasing news in its early preparation phase was the information that the only Andy Warhol Museum in Europe and the first in the world, the Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art in Medzilaborce, allowed the photo shooting to take place in its premises. This positive information was the trigger needed for this project.
The original idea for the "Symbiosis" project arose at the beginning of 2020 with the realization planned for early summer but has been significantly affected by the Covid-19 epidemic and hence the date of its implementation had to be constantly delayed. During the preparation phase designer Petra Kovacs joined the project as main designer. Later during the preparation phase the Indian genderless label Two Point Two joined to provide an additional depth of design and visual detail to the project. This project is truly a symbiosis of different cultures and people transcending geographical boundaries.
The photo shooting itself took place in August, when the situation allowed an international team, in the far east of Slovakia, to meet under strict medical protective measures. At that time, the creators did not know that just a month later the realization of this project, particularly the photo shooting, would not be possible again due to the measures put in place by the country and also the European Union.
We are humbled and grateful for the opportunity to make this project happen in the premises of the Museum of Modern Art Andy Warhol in Medzilaborce and its director Martin Cubjak and his colleagues for creating and maintaining ideal conditions and supporting environment for the entire project team.
"People are forever changing and life is changing," and although a global pandemic suddenly halted their plans, it became even more relevant and significant to their project. Not only is the theme of Symbiosis an important force behind evolution, it also represents the projects continued co-existence with Covid-19, and the long-term interaction and conditions necessary to proceed. The creative team was not willing to give up the idea and believed that the day would come when they would succeed in realizing it. Weaving in the theme of “old and new” the aim of the project was to capture a “mutualistic relationship between organic living arts, working in harmony with inanimate Artwork”, creating and producing a unique symbiotic interaction. They survived as did the evolving project, in which the iconic Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art plays a key role, along with an exceptional Team, representing symbiosis on multiple levels.
The world-famous pop artist Andy Warhol, who has his roots in Slovakia, made his country of birth famous abroad, even though he spent his whole life in the USA. His story is paralleled with the talented Slovak photographer Zuzana Valla, who was also born in Slovakia, and has achieved great success after relocating for new opportunities. Zuzana currently lives and works in the UK, where her unique style of artistic photography has brought great recognition, whist retaining her love and connections with her birth home, which is often reflected in her art. To elevate the project further, the team needed talented designers to compliment the essence of the concept.
Slovak designer Petra Kovacs combines her ethical, unique designs with the unmistakable artistic style of Andy Warhol, to produce skillfully balanced styles, varying between elegant cocktail dresses and party streetwear. Her collection "Lobster Party" was the perfect choice for this project, with its vibrant pop art colours, and its illustrative nature, it brings an environmental dimension highlighting the parasitic symbiotic impacts and effects of humans on corals reefs.
Two Point Two, on the other hand is a genderless all-inclusive fashion label from India. They have showcased at London Fashion Week, Milan Fashion Week as well as were the winners of the “Scouting for India” award by Vogue Italia and FAD. Their non-conformist and rebellious nature resonated with the story of Andy Warhol. Two Point Two forms a perfect balance of streetwear and formalwear creating an amalgamation appealing to a global audience. Their collection “N-R-Co-De” fit perfectly in this concept as it includes an interesting mix of subtlety and extravagance. They want to go beyond the gender binary and any pre-existing stereotypes in the society through their clothing and celebrate individuality, freedom and diversity.
To complete the models transformations, finding the right Hair and Makeup Artist to bring all the creative elements together, Zuzana looked to her favorite Makeup Designer, Suzanna.
British Makeup, Hair and Body paint Artist, Suzanna Forrister-Beer, was the perfect choice to complete the final creative piece in the puzzle, who Zuzana has successfully worked with for the past 7 years. Suzanna’s distinctive style often combines the natural environment, with a keen eye for colour and decorative art applied to the skin, hair, body and adornments. Her unique artistic flair made her the perfect choice to compliment the talents of the team and combine all the elements to create the perfect Symbiosis between Fashion, Art and Photography. On completion, the Team had captured much more than a beautiful set of images…
The evolved transitioning of the “Symbiosis” shoot brings its final and most fascinating relationship. By capturing this iconic Modern Art in its unique setting, the Team have formed their own parallel with the future of the Warhol Museum, bringing together old and new through models, fashion, creative makeup & photography. The symbolic visual recording will form part of the Museums history, before it undergoes a two-year regeneration and transformation project continuing its evolution, whilst retaining its original identity, and more importantly, greater recognition for Slovakia in the global Art and Fashion economy. Ultimately, we never stop evolving; regeneration brings new life, creating the conditions necessary for its continued existence…
The project "Symbiosis" of the creative Valla - Benko – Kovacs – Forrister-Beer – Two Point Two brings its own combination of timeless, artistically resonating past and present, combined with an emphasis on global transition, transformation and environmental issues. Taking a multidisciplinary approach to art, affords us the opportunity to evolve concepts, educate, and challenge perceptions.
Photo: Zuzana Valla @zuzu.valla
Cr Dir: Katarina Benkova @katarina_benko
MUA & Hair & Mask Drawing: Suzanna Forrister-beer Mua @suzannamakeupps
Stylist & MUA & Hair: Suzanna Forrister- Beer @suzannamakeupps
Models: Eva Tomanova @eva_tomanova11, Natalie Colledani @nanyc.colledani
Collages: Warren Reilly @warren_reilly
Fashion: Two Point Two Studio @twopointtwostudio,
Petra Kovacs @petrakovacs_official
Assistants: Nina Bencová @bencovanina,
Ondrej Valla @valla.ondrej, Martin ČAtloš @matko69
Location: The Andy Warhol Museum Of Modern Art In Medzilaborce @muzeumaw