By Max Siedentopf & JP Bonino
Art & Photography
Banana. A Little Bit Like Online Dating
What happens when you challenge yourself going to South America to photograph the most captivating locations and add several kilos of banana? Max Siedentopf, JP Bonino, and Felisa Lacroze did just that. Read the story to discover everything from the concept, to the creation, to the printed limited edition of BANANA. In this moving interview, JP and Max discuss work, life, and open up a window to see a bit more of the personality behind their creations.
JP Bonino is a photographer and filmmaker from Montevideo, Uruguay who worked for brands like Nike, Levis, Dropbox, Coca-Cola, Lacoste, and more. Max Siedentopf is a Namibian born artist, located in London, the UK. Max is a photographer, director, publisher and a creative partner of KesselsKramer.
Hey Max, JP. This is the first double interview for WÜL, and we are very excited about having you both. How did you meet? Was it the Dropbox Paper project?
Max: I’ve been working last year on a very extensive project (which is actually still in progress) with artists and photographers from all over the world. One of those was JP, I fell in love with his work, and I really liked the dynamic of working together. A few months later I was asked to come up with an idea for a project where I work together with different creatives using dropbox paper and of course I wanted to do it with JP again! BANANA is our third collaboration.
JP: It's basically what Max answered. I want to clarify that I was a great admirer of what he was doing before I started working with him, so it is an honor. Max, I send you a kiss from this interview.
You have worked together with Felisa Lacroze on the project ‘BANANA’ capturing a couple around South America, the project that turned to a printed limited edition magazine available on Max’s website. What was the concept of the project?
Max: One day I received an email from JP with a folder full of beautiful photos that he and his girlfriend Felisa were going to travel to and if we should use the opportunity to work on a new project together. I loved the landscapes and was intrigued how it would look like if you combine it with one of the most classic comedic elements - slipping on a banana.
JP: It was exactly as Max explains.
What are the challenges you have met while traveling around the continent and photographing in different countries?
JP: My biggest challenge in photographing different continents or countries is that my camera survives.
If you could be remembered for one thing, what would you like it to be?
Max: I want to be remembered as the man who wanted to be forgotten.
JP: I want to be remembered as the man who ate eight kilos of bananas in two weeks.
JP, it is obvious that you love photographing outdoors, setting a frame in a natural environment. What do you think the natural element adds to telling the story in fashion photography?
JP:I like it; the scales and the scenarios are endless.
JP, what is your favorite book of all time that inspires you? Why?
JP: I am constantly changing my relationship with books but from my adolescence until today I have always been reading philosophy and if I have to choose a book it would be Also Sprach Zarathustra.
Max, you have lived in so many countries: Namibia, Germany, the UK, the US, and the Netherlands. What do you feel each one adds to being a creator? What did you discover from this experience?
Max: Each country has a different approach to work and also creativity. I love to stay as open as possible and like a sponge to absorb as much as I can from all these approaches. I’ve also noticed that this changes how and for who you make work. Often, people that have only stayed in one place only make work that is understood locally, however, I’m a lot more interested in making things that are understood by every place I’ve lived before.
JP, you have been learning the craft from your father, who is a photographer. What is the most crucial lesson you remember?
JP: I always remember that he will leave me the last two photos of the film and then he would speak to me about the importance of light and of capturing situations that perhaps the eye does not pay attention to because it is occupied with adults’ stuff.
Max, how had it been growing up in Namibia?
What games did you play as a child?
Max: Don’t let the lions catch you.
Max, I’ve been watching your presentation at Nicer Tuesdays on It's Nice That, and I was wondering - the sense of humor, is it something you inherit or you develop it throughout the years?
Max: I think it’s definitely something you develop if you fall often enough on your head.
Tell one interesting fact about each other?
"We’ve never met in real life. I think that’s actually the beauty of living in such an interconnected world. But in a way, it’s also a little bit like online dating".
"I am very nervous because this year we are going to meet each other and I am afraid that in real life he will not be the same as in his photos".
— JP Bonino
JP, tell us about the Pantera & Co collective you are a part of and one of the latest works ‘It’s Nice That - Dropbox’ and if there is a connection to A Clockwork Orange.
JP: Pantera & Co is a group of directors together with me, in which I am the only photographer but above all things, it's a group of friends.
The project of Dropbox was born as Max said... At first, we had a very good dynamic working together, so we ended up doing this madness, which made me very happy. I didn’t notice the connection with 'A Clockwork Orange' but now that you name it, it's a film that marked me a lot in my adolescence. I saw it like 8 times, so I think I was unconsciously influenced by Alex.
What is the next project we can expect to see?
Max: I’ve recently been photographing quite a few families sitting up in trees….
JP: I just published a book of photographs from Myanmar, and I would like you to have it in your house, you will enjoy it.