A few months ago I interviewed Antonio as part of my Vogue Talent Contest entry. I wasn't shortlisted, but here is the interview in full below:
“I’m inspired by England and that kind of natural craziness” photographer Antonio Perricone explains, between sips of piping hot lapsang souchong tea as we sit facing each other in a smoky Tudor tearoom. Having spent the afternoon walking through the vast, open Kentish countryside and observing the beauty to be found in nature, it is not surprising that Perricone, dressed in black (“I’m dressed like a photographer” he laughs, looking down at himself) with khaki wellington boots, is inspired by England. From the grey English rain to the splendid green fields, England is steeped in creative history.
|A page from Antonio's journal|
Having seriously taken up photography in December 2013, the 17-year-old has lately been working with fresh faces from a number of prominent modelling agencies based in London. “I want a job where I am surrounded by really hot people” he grins when I ask what he would like to be doing in ten years time, “That’s a joke, but also not.” Finding inspiration in the English countryside may not be a new idea, but Perricone’s youthful vision is far from old-fashioned. Perhaps this stems from the fact that he grew up surrounded by the creative innovation of London, before moving to rural Kent as a teenager. Whether in the midst of the buzzing diversity of London or the stale boredom of a provincial town, Perricone seeks honesty; an honesty seen in the untamed midst of English fields and an honesty projected in the photographer’s non-discriminatory attitude towards beauty which aims to show people how they really are, with no pretence. This is refreshing in a society where young people are often criticised for creating an idealised version of themselves on social media. “People say that Instagram is not honest because people only post their best stuff to it, but I think it’s so honest” he pauses for thought, “Because people are showing exactly what they want to show you and it’s so accessible.” However, the #FreeTheNipple furore that has exploded recently due to Instagram’s strict community guidelines suggests that we are not as free to express ourselves as we may be led to believe. “Why do we allow really sexualised cleavage if we’re scared of corrupting the children, but we censor a nipple when it’s just a part of the human body? Come on, that’s ridiculous” Perricone expresses when I breach the subject.
It is clear that Perricone sees photography as a very powerful force. With protest occurring on a more widespread scale than it has done since the 1960s and 70s, whether it’s Pussy Riot in Russia or the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, it is more important than ever for young people to have a creative voice. They are the ones who will shape the future. So, does Perricone believe that photography should strive to envision a better world? “I think it’s important to photograph a wide range of people if you’re trying to attempt to make a fairer picture of what the world is really like” he explains, after telling me that he tries to photograph models that are not white because black and minority ethnic groups are marginalised in the fashion industry and the media as a whole. For Perricone, diversity is vital and the most photogenic beauty is unique and unconventional. He tells me that he would love to photograph up-and-coming model Molly Bair because, “strange features just take them apart from everyone else. I find people with pretty but bland looks boring to photograph because they are what the media would class as beautiful when personally I want something that’s different.”
As Perricone explains his love for photographing all that is distinctively out of the ordinary in attempt to accurately define the way the world and the people in it really are, Beauty is truth, truth’s beauty springs to mind. Such a literary association is not incongruous, as Perricone, who is currently studying both English and art, rushes to detail how his style of photography has been influenced by the writer, Raymond Carver, demonstrating how the artistic manipulation of both words and images are interwoven. “Visually, at the moment, I’m trying to take photos which aren’t just portraits or body shots. I want to shoot objects and things which are reminiscent of people and experience. Raymond Carver’s poetry and his writing is all about tiny images which tell so much but aren’t actually lots to read on the page.”
Social media might suggest that everything is globalising, but there is still an endearing zest in appreciating our roots. The freedom of roaming across English fields can be paralleled with the democratic publication of content on the internet. The countryside is aesthetically pleasing and Perricone’s Instagram feed is too, so artistically embrace that “natural craziness” and let England shake.