In our exciting special edition of LOVE, LOVE 16.5 ‘LOVE BY MERT ALAS’, supported by Marc Jacobs, Madonna stars alongside her son Rocco in his first ever modelling assignment. LOVE 16.5 launches on the 19th September 2016 during London Fashion Week.
With no hair or makeup, Mert captures a 10-page reportage of Madonna at his house in Hampstead in the early hours, ‘Madonna 2:00AM by Mert Alas’.
Madonna tells Murray Healy in the accompanying interview with LOVE 16.5 how “acceptance by the establishment equals death” and says: “I don’t consider myself a pop act, I consider myself an artist. And it’s an artist’s responsibility to be revolutionary in our work. It’s our responsibility, our duty and our privilege.”
On the burden of fame, she says: “I was already famous before social media, so for me fame isn’t the burden. Fame is the manifestation or the by-product of my work, and that was two decades before social media. Now to me the burden is people are more focused on fame than actually doing the work or being an artist. Now it’s easy to become famous. What isn’t easy is to develop and grow as an artist without being distracted or consumed with fame.”
Madonna also tells LOVE 16.5: “I like Instagram because it’s like keeping a diary and every day I get to share different aspects of my personality, my life, and what inspires me, what infuriates me, or what causes I want to fight for. It allows me to be mysterious, ironic, provocative or proud. I get to use it as a platform to bring attention to people or issues that I think are important. It allows me to be the curator of my life.”
In LOVE 16.5, Mert, who shortly after shooting Madonna, embarked on a project exploring the idea of the voyeuristic essence of the camera for a 70-page photographic portfolio. It resulted in him shooting beautiful men in Berlin, LA and London. Rocco was photographed in the final stage of the project in London.
Mert Alas says: “I have become very intrigued by the new generation of kids I witnessed rising up in Berlin, Russia, the UK and the USA. At first they gave me the impression of skinhead punks but they embody so much more! They have substance, sensitivity, creativity and personal, inimitable style. These are cool kids who create music, poetry and art. I guess the fascination was the genesis of this project! I wanted to capture not just their style but the liberated sensibility that it represents and the meaning behind it. It is not just aesthetics but a visceral effect on life as its lived in the real world.”
Cao Fei, a quietly determined artist whose work exposes the void between the cold, hard mundanities of material life and their digitally imagined fantasy alternatives also features in LOVE 16.5. Katie Grand first met Cao Fei in Vienna last year when she went to see her exhibition at the Secession Museum: “I was immediately struck by how cool she was. Like Madonna she’s a strong woman who doesn’t take any shit.”