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Photographer Marcelo Krasilcic's new book, 1990s, recalls a decade that saw a significant change in the Brazilian's work and the fashion landscape.

Having just arrived, in 1990, in the city as an NYU student, Krasilcic's sensual realism matched easily with fashion's turn away from the '80s glamour and neon. In both his personal and professional life, he captured his friends and lovers in intimate moments, contributing to magazines such as Self Service, Purple and Dazed and Confused. His cover for Everything But The Girl's 1996 album Walking Wounded, longstanding collaborations with actress Chloë Sevigny, artists Rita Ackermann and the collective Bernadette Corporation are included here, alongside his lovers, close friends, and family. His work propelled him to international success. The two-volume book was launched, alongside exhibits, at New York's OSMOS Address project space (also publishers of the book, under OSMOS Books), in Paris at Colette, in Miami during Art Basel, and in Brazil for SP-Arte.

Alex:

In the introduction to 1990s, you explain that a meeting with the artist Linda Montano had a big impact on you.

Marcelo:

I was studying at NYU, and she was a guest, giving a lecture. I was instantly in love with everything about her--her work, her personality. Her videos were hilarious. She was doing tarot readings for artists at the New Museum. I had just come out of a four-year relationship, which was painful. I was asking myself a lot of questions about my life--emotionally, where I stood, and I'd started doing yoga. I was asking myself: "What could I do, to transform my life? How much is destiny in charge of the path I am on?" When I had the tarot session, she pulled out a card and said, "I see a lot of turmoil, a lot of things that you are trying to resolve. Resolve them in your work." It was such amazing advice, and I started photographing my life, recreating, or choosing, the images to deal with all the issues that were in my mind.

Alex:

Did you see an immediate change? 

Marcelo:

A big shift. Because I didn't used to photograph myself. I was photographing others. I used to go around and shoot people in the street, and interview them. Then suddenly it became very personal, very intimate. Also there was the influence of Nan Goldin, Larry Clark and Nobuyoshi Araki, really groundbreaking photographers who allowed my whole generation to use this more realistic language, that had not previously been was considered art, or was not considered conceptual in any way. It was snapshot-y.

Alex:

Documentary.

Marcelo:

Yes. Because of them, photographers like Juergen Teller, Wolfgang Tillmans, and me--suddenly we could use from this language to show what was relevant to us. It was more about constructing our own realities. Instead of saying, "This is reality," it was more like, "This is what I want my reality to be." I decide to tell a story, and that becomes the story. Which is very powerful.  

Alex:

You went from external to internal. Did it feel risky?

Marcelo:

I left Brazil at a time when gay rights didn't even exist. The idea of not only standing for who you are and being very proud of it was just totally out of context. Since then, Brazil has changed immensely. When I moved to New York, I remember by chance coming across the gay pride parade. I was stunned. There were topless lesbians on motorcycles, grandmothers, it was just mind-blowing. But it was the '90s, AIDS was crazy scary. It felt like everybody you knew was going to die. I got a little bit involved with ACT UP. It wasn't risky, because it was just inevitable. I was suddenly filled with pride: this is who I am, this is wonderful, I am happy to be who I am. It's important to share that. My idea of photography was really developing. I was suddenly incredibly passionate about the work I was doing. 

Alex:

Your style was also very appealing to fashion at the time.

Marcelo:

Originally I didn't even consider doing work for magazines. I was in an exhibition, a few months after I graduated from NYU, curated by Jack Pierson, in SoHo at Tom Cugliani's gallery. It was a really beautiful space, and he was lovely. It was this group show with Nan Goldin, Larry Clark, and a bunch of others--it was insane. I was 22. I was doing exhibitions in Brazil, in Europe, but I started assisting people to make money, and I worked with some fashion photographers. A fashion shoot is such an event: you gather a model or an actor, a band, you have a stylist bringing clothes, you choose a location, you have a limited amount of time. I'm very good at working with limitations, I always try to kind of go beyond them. I saw the potential in that. 

Alex:

What also strikes me in 1990s are the images of empty rooms. The layout of the book places them alongside very intimate scenes between people. But there doesn't seem to be much difference, whether somebody is actually there or not.

Marcelo:

My mom is an interior designer. For many generations, my family has either built or has dealt with furniture, so I grew up with couches coming in and out, there would be mirrors on the wall, huge ferns hanging from the window and then, a year later everything would be chrome and chrome chains. I grew up with a sense of space and transformation. To me, the empty rooms are a really clear balance between being in control, and not being in control. Whoever put that room together decided the color, the furniture, this and that--all those choices are really limited by who that person is in terms of social status, money, and what's available. You learn so much about whoever that person is. 

Alex:

The still-lifes that you do now are very theatrical. For example, the images you did for PIN-UP magazine, that are on your website. Is there any relation between them and the rooms? 

Marcelo:

To me the 1990s was more of a time of exploration, looking at things, everywhere. From the 2000s on, I started building more things. What I was saying earlier about control and destiny: Suddenly I was like, "It's the same thing. Chill out!" Do what feels right, don't question it, be present. That liberated me to build these things, instead of just finding them. In the 90s there wasn't so much concern about the clothes having to look absolutely pristine. The idea behind the concept in the story was what was selling the clothes. From the 2000s on, I've had to put more emphasis on the clothes looking perfect, and the model looking really beautiful. I feel that I have to be even more creative.

All photos (except self-portrait) courtesy of Marcelo Krasilcic and OSMOS Address.