The Accidental Fold: Saskia de Brauw, an artist turned model, and back again
The life and times of a successful fashion model are so often depicted as a jet-set flurry of glamorous photo shoots, galas, and gowns, when in fact the reality is a lot more sobering. Long hours of waiting rooms, fittings, and international air travel find many girls glued to their iPhones, pulp fiction, and even their school textbooks, yet for 34-year-old Dutch supermodel Saskia de Brauw it is those in-between moments that have informed her first artist book, The Accidental Fold. De Brauw studied photography and textile design at the Gerrit Reitveld academy in Amsterdam, where she focused on photography, text, and performance-based work documenting urban and domestic spaces.
Launched at an intimate book signing at the Librarie Yvon Lambert in Paris last week (just as the S/S 2016 Haute Couture season drew to a close), de Brauw’s self-published tome is a sensitive exploration of her archival artistic practice, filled with the natural and man made debris that she has collected on her travels. Captured with the small handheld scanner that de Brauw has carried to the four corners of the globe, each item holds a totemic value in her evolving oeuvre - she calls them an ‘evidence of presence’ - referring to the delicate transience of one’s time on earth. Through her process of scanning and liberal use of negative space, those symbolic objects appear on her thin pages (and a handful of loose leaf inserts) as fragile relics; there is a ‘seven of spades’ playing card found in Cambodia, a rusty nail from Marfa, Texas, a broken sandal seen in Marrakech – all manner of humble, everyday objects cast aside by others only to be re-contextualised within de Brauw’s sensual memory map.
Designed in collaboration with Parisian art director Erik Haberfeld, The Accidental Fold is a poignant and personal art book, and a testament to de Brauw’s dedicated methodologies, with over six years of photographic and poetic observations recorded within its pages. As an object, the 500-print run edition lives up perfectly to its creator’s spontaneous and imperfect aesthetic, as elements such as French binding, a recycled cardboard slipcase, and a folded poster-size dust cover add to the unassuming natural beauty of its contents. Though The Accidental Fold opens with a quote from Georges Perec, this reporter could not help think of Michael Ondaatje when rifling through its pages. ’Trust me, this will take time but there is order here, very faint, very human. Meander if you want to get to town.’