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Interview: Natasa Vojnovic

published on 18 December 2003

The model speaks to Penny Martin about becoming a refugee as a child and channeling her anger into her work.

The model speaks to Penny Martin about becoming a refugee as a child and channeling her anger into her work.

Image from 'Flash', Vogue March 2003 by Nick Knight

Penny Martin: Why do you model?

Natasa Vojnovic: One day when I was young, I woke up and I was a model. Now, it pays the bills and sometimes feeds my ego.

PM: Do you consider modelling to be an expression of the photographer's wishes or of something personal to you?

NV: It is always a combination of the two. I try to find the woman that the photographer searches for, but I make her up in my own way.

PM: How aware are you of your appearance whilst modelling?

NV: I am very aware that I don't look like myself, and I play with that.

PM: Photographers who have worked with you, including Nick Knight, have mentioned that you are quite unlike other models. What do you think they mean? Do you consciously try to give something different?

NV: No. We are all already different. I pull different movies out of my head, and just work my ass off.

PM: Images of you suggest you almost work against your looks, expressing emotions of anger, even violence, rather than the more traditional passive, sexual countenances of fashion models. Why is this?

NV: Perhaps I have a more interesting sex life. My life has been all but passive. At twelve, I became a refugee from the war in Bosnia. War and many demons that followed it developed an angry side of me. Until the war ended I did not think of work, I mainly used my anger. But I was lucky, since fashion gave me a way to do something creative with it. In any case, what people learn from war is that it increases your chances to be a moving target.

There are no sparks without friction. Somewhere between the confines and kicking against them, lies a good image.

PM: You have said in the past that photographers try to control your movement in front of the camera, confining your body to stillness. Do you find it frustrating? What compels you to kick against this?

NV: It is not easy to photograph movement and expression well. There are not many photographers, like Nick Knight, who can do this. If my working style were limited to expression and movement, I would barely work. I believe that many clients are afraid of a look that is overly strong. However, people I work with know that I am able to alter my style from mellow and thoughtful to wild and crazy. There are no sparks without friction. Somewhere between the confines and kicking against them, lies a good image.

PM: What goes through your mind on a shoot? How do you keep mentally active during all the waiting around?

NV: I keep mentally active in many ways from silence through to chaos. I sit and struggle with feeling like a star one minute and an idiot the next.

PM: What aspects of your work do you dislike?

NV: Fashion has lost its cool. If it ever had any.

PM: Describe the moment you see a shoot in print. Do you recognise the woman you see in the pictures as you?

NV: She is the woman from my imagination. Don't they say that modelling is the dream job of every girl?

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