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She was born with an undeniable creative nature, but it wasn’t until she became a grown up girl living in a filthy apartment – place worthy of a BBC documentary – that she started experimenting with photography in order to control her stress. Rebecca Storm is a young creative soul from Canada that highlights unconventional details that are usually hidden. Through kinky 90s still lifes, portraits and ASMR videos she explores her sensual self-indulgence, and describes her work as a dark or sad hedonism – in her own words: “My work is like opening a pomegranate to find that it’s rotten”. We had a conversation about photography, Internet censorship and Fleurcups. 
Do you remember the concept behind your first series of photographs? Were they still lifes or portraits?
I would mostly document my friends until the first real series I shot, which was still life, documenting the filth in my life. Our apartment at the time was literally held together with duct tape, which we later found out was because it was infested with bedbugs and the landlord didn’t want to spend money to fix the problem so he tried to remedy it with tape. We were broken into three times that year and he also wouldn’t fix the door, so it had like thirteen locks on it. I think struggling financially and mentally was a big catalyst for me to start documenting things that caused me stress in an attempt to control them.
We know you are a good painter and writer, but you chose to go further in photography. What does photography allow you to do that no other type of art does?
I actually really miss painting. I think I pursued photos though because I felt as though I could no longer access painting in a way that was fulfilling for me. It was a bad time, and photos allowed me to document it in a satisfying way, and let me exercise control over stressful situations.

Do you feel related to or inspired by a photographic, artistic or historical stylistic trend?
Not really overtly, although I’m sure I’m inspired by some trends inadvertently, and by things happening around me all the time. It would be impossible for me or anyobody to be 100% authentic – I think everything is recycled or inspired by something from the past. I do think I’m pretty influenced (whether I like it or not) by having grown up in the 90s, just in terms of color and an inherent ‘whacky-ness’ that I find a bit embarrassing but can’t seem to avoid.
Are you obsessed with something?
I love photographing textures, molds and visceral substances, any colors that interest me, and shiny things.
Is the way you feel when shooting people the same when shooting objects?
No. I avoided shooting people for projects or any series for a long time. I still have this feeling of awkwardness about invading somebody’s space or taking a piece of them for my own work. It’s always seemed weird to me, even when the model is there voluntarily or being paid! But it’s something I’m getting used to, and I’m learning to not feel guilty about treating the human form as more sculptural than bodily. For that reason I’ve always preferred shooting objects, and I think objects often provide a more compelling narrative about people than a portrait does.

“I think objects often provide a more compelling narrative about people than a portrait does.”
What is the value and the meaning of each detail in your photographs?
Every photograph is different, but I do like to highlight awkward or unconventional details that are usually otherwise hidden. Chipped nail polish functions as a nice, honest detail.
Could you explain how you work? How do you compose the different scenes?
For still life I often end up shooting things I’m about to throw in the garbage – sometimes I’ll take things out of the garbage to complete an arrangement. I think this is also a way of remedying the anxiety I have about the waste and garbage we generate as humans, although it doesn’t do much besides quell my guilt as I frantically try and extend the utility of garbage by taking one last photo. Clients don’t usually like garbage, so for that type of arrangement I like balancing objects with organic materials. Anything too unnatural or clinical is repulsive in its artifice, and ultimately uninteresting to me.
How do you find the characters you're shooting? Are you used to working with famous models or do you prefer street style people?
If I’m not documenting my friends, I prefer street casting, but I’m shy when approaching people. Also I feel it’s unfair to put someone on the spot in their day-to-day when they have no idea who I am or about my work. For this reason I’m a real Instagram lurker. If I find someone on Instagram who I’ve seen around, it’s the best method of casting for me. When I’m busy though I often have to go through agencies, which is alright but I find they’re a bit lacking in diversity.

What do you want to explain in your still life images?
I feel like still life arrangements are a bit lonely, or I guess the way I photograph them makes them seem lonely. They exist only for the purpose of being photographed, or if it’s a found still life arrangement it’s usually in a public space and bound to change at any moment. In those instances I feel lucky. I think my work is hedonistic in the sense that it explores sensual self indulgence, but I prefer to regard it as dark or sad hedonism, like opening up a pomegranate to find that it's rotten.
We’ve seen some of your ASMR videos, can you explain what ASMR is and why it is related to the rest of your work?
ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) is a tingling feeling that incites relaxation, triggered by sounds, visuals, touches, etc. I feel like it’s the epitome of sensuality in a way, not in reference to the sexy ASMR youtube channels, but the acute emphasis on the senses. I used to ask my mum to buy green onions so that I could listen to her slice them up. ASMR repulses me in an exciting way, which is a phenomenon that I try to recreate in my photos.
There are a lot of opinions around the massive selfie trend and what it means to be a feminist nowadays. What do you think about projects and collectives like The Ardorous and the new concept of feminism known as ‘digi-feminism’?
Feminism means equality to me. Ultimately anybody actively working in favor of feminism is positive. I think that digi-feminism, though positive in some respects, sometimes seems to collapse on itself by adopting hierarchies which very similarly echo the patriarchy in the sense that it becomes exclusive, classist, racist, etc. This idea of being ‘enough’ to be feminist, the elevated rhetoric with which feminists are policed by others within the movement, white feminism – these things are problematic. Feminism is important but it still isn’t working for everyone it should be working for, and this type of feminism largely neglects PoC and the LGBQT community. I can’t speak for all ‘feminist art collectives’ but the first thing that stands out to me about a lot of them is that they lack diversity. And if you’re harnessing a socio-political movement as the foundation for your art collective, you have an obligation to showcase a diverse selection of artists. Feminism shouldn’t just be for white, cis women.

“Now more than ever, we need to support one another and work to be more inclusive.”
You have participated in some artistic projects empowered by women, like Girlfriends, curated by the photographer Dafy Hagai. What do you think about the current situation of women? What attitude should an artist take in order to change and improve this situation?
I feel like a marginalized person making art and getting recognized is considered radical, so it's taboo if they aren't also political about it. There's also a lot more pressure on these artists to be more articulate conceptually, like this need for the artist to prove theirself. That being said, I do think that if you're creating art, you're contributing to a greater dialogue in some way, and the question of politics always comes into play. Sooner or later you're going to have to address that question or step back from the conversation. There is a certain level of responsibility that comes with having an audience, and I think it’s important to harness that in a thoughtful way.
You created a controversy on Internet with a picture of a Fleurcup. What do you think about Internet, censorship and feminism nowadays? 
(Laughs) I didn’t know that I caused a controversy! I think that censorship has its purpose in a small handful of situations, but the way it’s implemented to control us, (specifically minorities and their bodies) is fucked up – censoring the human body only functions to further sexualize it. That’s a type of censorship I do not agree with. As much as I can critique feminism and digi-feminism though, I think ultimately, and now more than ever, we need to support one another, and work to be more inclusive.

Words
Mireia Pascual

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