Italian artist Vanessa Beecroft and Kanye West has been collaborating for nearly a decade. The two first teamed up in 2008 when West asked the controversial artist to choreograph an installation for his 808s and Heartbreak private listening party. They then went on to work on projects like his "Runway" video and even the art direction for his wedding to Kim Kardashian. Most recently, Beecroft is credited with staging Kanye's Yeezy Season 3 presentation at Madison Square Garden, which is the third runway show she has staged for him. In a rare interview with W, Beecroft shares what it has been like working with Kanye and how she put together his epic fashion show.
Beecroft explains that Kanye doesn't offer much instruction for how she should execute his vision. Instead he briefly shares his thoughts about how he wants to approach the show and she goes from there.
"Kanye is extremely respectful and humble towards others’ creativity. I never felt as if I received instructions but rather a brief, a verbal visualization of thoughts. A daydreaming type of confession and aspiration.During these briefings, ideas, memories, stories, dreams, fantasies and visuals are presented. I usually listen and allow these ideas to enter my head. Then, after spending some time with them, I select what I can hold on to, in order to build a symbolic image. Sometimes I stay close to the original, sometimes I don’t. I am given carte blanche."
Beecroft also praises the artistic freedom she has when working with Kanye, saying he allows her to do whatever she wants. "When I work with Kanye I am liberated by the fact of being a female, what is considered a white person. I am free from the schemes of the art world, I gain another audience. I am protected by Kanye’s talent. I become black. I am no longer Vanessa Beecroft, and I am free to do whatever I want because Kanye allows it."
The artist says the image of the Rwandan refugee camp that she used as inspiration for the Yeezy Season 3 show had no physical limitations, so she was actually surprised by how small the space was, but she tried to fill it up with as many people as possible.
While Kanye has said that his fashion shows are not making a political statement, Beecroft is known for her politically-driven art and her feminist critiques of the female body. When asked how her art contrasts with Kanye's, Beecroft says that his work is actually the most political of all.
"I think Kanye’s social work is presented in a new form. Kanye doesn’t follow the traditional standards of political work. However, by being extremely sensitive to the zeitgeist, Kanye, to me, is the most political, experimental and fundamentally humanitarian of all," she said.
"Not by explicitly donating, supporting or consoling the poor, but by living, in his own body, the change in a way that is not easy. He embodies the persona that makes his life a project and he is truthful to his lyrics. Kanye is a poet. There is no discrimination while working with Kanye. The only discrimination is [against] the demagogic, the old, the politically correct, even in the art form."
To read the full interview head over here.