Young Talents x Marset

A human touch

Rebecca Scheinberg
Interviewed by Simone Rossi

Inspired by the perfect feminine shape, photographer Rebecca Scheinberg created a play of tension between the object and the human body. The Bolita lamp by kaschkasch evokes a feeling of playful tangibility. Indicating the digital era’s lack of human touch, the lamp invites you to interact and move the magical ball around its base to dim the light. Rebecca aimed to capture this concept in her photographic series.

Using the female form, pressing her soft limbs against the light, Rebecca creates a delicate dialogue between figure and lamp, a beautiful visual balance between movement and stillness, where the intensity of the light seems organic – rather than electronic.

“I was inspired by the lamp itself, the perfect form and deep femininity. It became a play between the qualities of strength and softness, movement with stillness.”

Rebecca Scheinberg
By reading your bio, what amazed me most was your education in performing arts and the experiences you had - the renowned Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv is one of them; could you tell me more about that period, the first years of your artistic path? 
R.S.I left my home in Sydney, Australia, when I was 16 years old and moved to London to study ballet; shortly afterwards I joined the Batsheva Ensemble. I think it was a very formative and intense period for me, which greatly influenced my way of seeing, thinking and relating to people and my work. It was an interesting time because I went quite far, I could learn from the dance, reflecting, there was a unique way to feel your movements and sensations. I still teach gaga, it is such a rewarding experience, the closest thing I found to being really present in the moment. It is a beautiful language.
In your artistic practice at some point photography has arisen as medium of expression. In your opinion, what are the reasons behind this evolution?
R.S.I had understood that I didn't want to dance anymore, I always liked the research on movement and physicality, but I didn't really like the performative part in first person. It had come to an end and I didn't really know what I wanted to do anymore. “Do I still want to do something creative?” That was the real question at the time. Finally, I decided that I really wanted… actually I just fell into photography. I thought: “Okay, I'll apply for art schools, if I get in, I'll go, if not I'll do something else for a while”. I was accepted and I started to appreciate the medium right away. I always loved the connection that photography establishes with reality, although it has this very subjective bond – nothing is very real in an image – yet it still manages to provoke a unique feeling of connection with life, with the present moment. Photography has something powerful, it has the potential to move something in people, this is the part I really like.
The way you deal with the body, its soft forms, always in motion, are visible traces of your performative approach. How far do you think your photographic technique is influenced by your dance experience? 
R.S.I don't think there are any differences in my approach to photography or performance. I think it's a way of proceeding inherent in my performative gaze that has been formed since I was young. The interesting thing about dance is that it is so expressive, a language that avoids words through gestures, movements. This has always interested me and photography can speak the same way. I don't know how much one affects the other. I felt uncomfortable acting, performing on stage. I enjoyed the physical sensation of dancing and interacting with people, but I didn't like being in the centre of the scene. Thanks to photography, my role has changed.
Whether you're shooting bodies or still life, a delicate touch of fragility and eroticism always shines through in your photos. This also happens in your project for the Bolita lamp by Kaschkasch where a latent tension flows through the space. In your practice, how does eroticism meet the form?
R.S.I feel that my practice is less related to eroticism and more to sensuality. In my opinion, sensuality can come from and expand from all sorts of things, it is found in textures, body gestures, landscapes. I find that when you experience some form of sensuality, in those moments there is a kind of truth, no filter and no protection between subject and object, a lot of availability in the space. This is the point, transparency.
So, can we say that an object has some sort of inner sensuality?
R.S.Yes, I think it depends on the object: some are wonderfully masculine, others feminine; I naturally tend to look for femininity rather than masculinity. For me it's much easier to find sensuality in objects, in texture, in the way light falls on something, but I'm curious to see what happens when you bring a person into this, playing with that moment, coming into contact with my sensuality in space.
About this, in the short text presenting the design of the Bolita lamp, you state that you were inspired by a deep femininity. What defines this kind of approach?
R.S.In the lamp, femininity was essentially linked to its form and presence. That beautiful kind of dome produced a warm light that encouraged softness and relaxation, so much that to interact with it you were supposed to be kind; it promoted tactility and slow movements; and all this I found deeply feminine
Marset Young Talents

Rebecca Scheinberg is an Australia-born, London-based photographer whose work spans still life, documentary, fashion and portraiture. Her choice of subject matter is broad and ever-evolving, but her photographs – whether a dynamic shot of a woman in motion, or a pristine editorial image of a luxury timepiece – are always characterised by sensuality and a sensitive application of light.

Scheinberg trained as a classical dancer, going on to work with Batsheva Ensemble – an influence which manifests in her work through an enduring focus on the human body. Through her lens, the physical form becomes by turns tender, powerful, miraculous and ordinary. In particular, she explores gesture, injecting emotional resonance into the crook of a wrist or the arch of an ankle as though she were a choreographer, locating narrative in the subtlety of a subject’s movements.

Scheinberg’s editorial clients include Wallpaper*, Port Magazine, Odiseo, Bloomberg and The Sunday Telegraph. She was selected for British Journal of Photography 2015 and exhibited in Fresh Faced and Wild Eyed at The Photographers’ Gallery.

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