LOCAL ANGELS by LOIS COHEN & INDIANA VOSS

Lady Galore & Lil Galore
Mitca Pamfillie
Matthew Mocro
Frans & Emanuelle
Stacy
Else Voss
Chico
Geordan
Liane Klein
Donna Hofman

eccentricity is relative – what makes a character eccentric in your eyes?

Lois: I think everyone deep inside is a bit eccentric or whatever you want to call it, just most people don’t embrace this side and try to fit in society standards. And then there are those people who do embrace it and take pride in it or/and they just don’t care. Eccentricity comes from within, but in most cases it expresses itself on the outside as well.

Indiana: A character is eccentric in my eyes when you can immediately tell that they are an individual that is not influenced or interested in pop culture in any way shape or form. Being a stylist of course I focus a lot on the clothing aspect of a character and I look for a person that is able and willing to self express all their quirky creativity through fashion. Naturally it take a certain confidence to pull off dressing like this.


How did you choose your subjects? Did you street cast them by their style?

Lois: It’s a combination of some Amsterdam legends everyone knows like drag queen Lady Galore, people we personally know, and of course street-casting. Besides extravagant nightlife characters, we also wanted to shine a light on the infamous eccentrics living on the fringes of society. Often hidden, but lighting up the streets when they pass you by.

For instance Chico, an artist that we street casted took us into his home and gave us a glimpse of his life. His own look was the most extravagant of everyone we casted, but when we got to talk to him, we could tell he lived a very isolated life.

He lived in a small artist apartment unlike any I have seen before. Everywhere you looked there was art in the making, turned up CDs and jewels lined the ceiling while the walls were covered with both paintings and drawings as magazine clippings.

Indiana: For me personally the “underground eccentrics” are the most interesting. They are people that march to the beat of their own drum and are truly unique. Through this series we got to know some of these people.   

Another character that stands out in my mind is Mitica Pamfilie, a Romanian artist that spends his days looking through trash for recyclable treasures he transforms into art. He and his wife live in a fantastic old building in the dutch city Leeuwarden and we were fortunate enough to spend a day in his extraordinary world where dogs ride in baby carriages and even the smallest inconsequential object has beauty and value.

Lois: Next to the fact that we know a lot of the same people from different scenes (a part of the casting were people we mutually know/are friends of ours) Our love for the same type of character is what brought us together as a working duo. It seems like authentic style and self expression is generally harder to find on the streets these days, especially comparing Amsterdam now with the city in the 70s/80s/90s (look at work from Ed van der Elske).  We felt it was about time we searched for and highlighted those individuals that are still fighting the good fight against mass homogenization.

Indiana : A part of the series is based on the characters personal style, but more so on their general attitude as of course each photo is styled/staged. With this series we wanted to bring out and emphasize their true character and style in a way that is aesthetically pleasing yet still true to the character. There is also a part of the series that is purely our imagination and completely staged. Though in the process of type casting for these images we found that the models were just as, dare I say more eccentric, than the other characters.

Lois: Like Indiana’s grandmother, who we completely styled. She doesn’t look like that at all, but it does in a way represent how cool of a person she is. I remember some of her crazy stories.

Anyway, in short we used both staged and documentary approach for the series, we tried to get a glimpse of each person’s individuality whether they were casted or found.

Where did you photograph your local angels?

Lois: 98% in our hometown, Amsterdam, for except maybe 1 or 2 images which we shot elsewhere.

Would you consider continuing the series and photographing subjects in other places? You could do an eccentric fashion spin-off of Humans Of New York.

Indiana: Once we got to shooting we realized we could basically continue this series forever and we have talked a lot about continuing and eventually creation a book.

Lois: But we both have difficulty focusing on one subject too long, we have actually  already moved on to another big collaboration, which will hopefully be finished by January 2018.

Do your subjects have eccentric personalities or backstories as well, or is it purely about the look for you?

Lois: Well both our visual styles are very extravagant and we’re both very much into self expression through extreme clothes, hair and make-up. But we also wanted to make a statement about being proud of not conforming to society standards, by placing them in these very daily  and civil environments.


Indiana: Their appearance is definitely the most dominant factor in the images. But  for us the best part of the whole project was the process: meeting all these people and hearing about their stories. Their personalities definitely left a memorable impression.