Monica Menez – A Fashion-Lovestory
Students who are excitingly licking the tables in the lecture hall, a richly decorated Christmas tree as an object of sexual desire, a female secretary with a catlike way of life – Monica Menez stages fashion in a way which goes far beyond the mere presentation of pretty models in splendid clothing.
She may be working on a fashion film or a photo series: the approach of this photographer and maker of fashion films, born in Stuttgart (Germany), is unconventional and unique in the world of fashion. She bases all scenes on short stories, taking things literally, she thrashes out metaphors and thus subtly uncovers absurd ambiguities. The thus created images are aesthetic, humorous, and not seldom erotic. Menez takes scenes from everyday life and modifies them: she places the well-known into strange contexts, or she peppers common scenes with surreal elements. Her images are multi-layered, obsessed with detail, but never cluttered – each element of the respective image has its own task, the observer becomes a discoverer.
However, with all those imaginative sceneries one thing never gets out of focus: fashion, which always plays the leading role with Monica Menez´s work. Quite on the contrary: It is precisely the combination of pointedly told stories and fashion by way of which Monica Menez makes fashion the real Star.
In her photo series “Torture”, for example, the models interact with cactuses, the photos are clearly inspired by bondage and fetish. However, the models are not at all at the cactuses mercy, rather Monica Menez establishes a sexually uploaded atmosphere between the models, fashion, and these prickled plants. No less sexually uploaded is the photo series “The Woman That Fell in Love”: there, a woman takes Christmas as the “celebration of love” literally, and without further ado changes the richly decorated Christmas tree into an object of sexual desire.
Also in her fashion films Monica Menez combines everyday matters with elements of the grotesque. The interplay of fashion, music and motifs becomes total artwork, whose scenes are humorous, surprising, exciting, sexy and absurd all at the same time – including arcs of suspense, for the grotesque situations are resolved only at the end of the film. In “Odditory”, for example, the viewer is told why slapping raw cutlets against each other is an essential part of a lecture, in “Precious” pizza-making becomes a surreal-erotic act, and in “Hors d´Oeuvre” a woman is portrayed for three episodes from her rather unique everyday life.
We understand from Monica Menez´s varied work that, apart from her own, individual visual language, she is inspired by a variety of most different cultural aspects – such as surreal-humorous films like John Waters´s “Polyester”, style-defining fashion photographies from the 1950s and 1960s, and current art. All this – and much more – is included into Menez´s work and is developed further.
Monica Menez has developed her keen instinct for the perfect scenery over many years. At the age of 24 she started a term of practical work as a fashion photographer, to then work as a press photographer for several years. During these years she came increasingly in touch with the world of fashion. After first fashion series for different magazines and growing demand from fashion labels, finally in 2002 there was the decision to work mainly as a fashion photographer. She discovered her love of the fashion film rather coincidentally, as she tells: “I was working on my photo project `Precious´. After one and a half year of intensive work and countless photo shootings I realized that by way of photographic means I´m not able to deliver the story I wanted to tell. However, as I wanted to conclude the project, I started filming the scenes. This way it was easier to tell the stories. Then I liked the result so much, that since then I have been going on with this way of working.”