Monday, January 7, 2013

Ribal and Gil, Melbourne's Superteam

They may look like the Odd Couple, because, well they happily are. Melbourne photographers Superteam Studios inhabit a creative space that only they can find, and it shows in their superlative work.

interview: Grant Fell photo: Superteam Studios

Grant Fell: Where were you born and where did you grow up? Ribal: Born in Lebanon, grew up in Australia, reborn on the Tangent. Gil: The ‘me’ was born and raised in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, although I existed long before and already after the physicality of my me. Having said that, we were both taken in, broken down and given new life inside and surrounding the walls of the Great 15 Simmons St, South Yarra Dynasty. What was the very first thing each of you remember? Ribal: Picking chicken eggs with my grandmother and giving my grandfather his morning meds. I would have been less than a year old. Gil: Mother moving after son, moving after herself. Ribal, both of your parents are doctors and you started out studying Pharmacy. How does that translate into what you are doing now? Ribal: I guess the type of problem solving your mind has to facilitate at a tertiary level allowed me to unlock associative skills I never fully exercised. And, in a field such as Pharmacy, where you’re studying the basic building blocks of the human physiological system and how it reacts with both endogenous and exogenous substances, forces you to almost mentally dissect anything you encounter until you have stripped it back to it’s nucleotic form. That sounds so fuckin’ wanky doesn’t it? Gil, both of your parents are teachers and your background is in animation. How does that inform your work now? Gil: My background was more in sound and in light and in the movement of the hands helping exorcise thought by many means. Animation was only the result of an over-filled pre-selection kit kick-out and was shortly deferred for the betterment of my mental health and general well-being. My mother is an artist and a teacher and my father a psychology loving rapscallion, and a teacher. The nature of my parents and their influence permeate my every move for it has been the food on which I was fed, and although now I am my own man, creating, I would not be making as I am if it were not for their collaborative effort in the production of myself and the keeping me off of roads. Describe when you first met, how did your creative partnership come about? Ribal: We met at the studio of our late great mentor Eryk Fitkau. Gil had already been working there for a while and I had never held an SLR camera before. Over the next period of our lives we were taught everything from building, plumbing, plastering, painting, rendering, and at times, we were taught a little something relating to ‘photography’. Ultimately however, it wasn’t really a conscious choice to formulate a creative partnership, it was more so a realization that we were able to work together in such an efficacious and honest way that it would have almost been absurd to go our separate ways. You guys are therefore effectively a ‘photographic team’. Why did you decide to work as a team together making images, rather than doing your own work? We still do our own personal work but when our minds collide, the fact that we are literally polar opposites, brings about some strange seeds laced with symbiotic basheesh that yield such succulent fruits. Describe your design process from the first inkling of an idea through to completion? Ribal: Well, if the idea comes to you, whether you’re driving or asleep, everything stops and it must be written down because we believe that you usually have a 15-30 second window in which you’re able to translate that idea before it is lost in analytical translation. But usually, we’ll be at the studio, Gil will sit behind the bar and I will be playing billiards on my own and we will just throw ideas for hours on end and commit tangenticide freely until we feel confident that we’ve reached a desirable final product. Tell us about your collaborative approach? For example you have a fierce connection to the Strateas Carlucci boys….We’ve found that the most important element when collaborating with others is the discipline in not pushing your own creative agenda too much. If you are working alone, do as you please, but as a collective, subscribing to a democratic regime rather than a dictatorship always seems to bring the best work into fruition. You still shoot a lot of your work on film. What is it about film – both technically and creatively – that makes you want to bypass the ease of shooting digitally to shoot on the so-called analogue format of film? A wise Polish man once asked us: “Would you rather fuck with dildo or fuck with dick!” It was a rhetorical question...How would you each describe your own personal fashion style? Ribal: Pseudo-sexual-cock-eyed-duck. Gil: Practical. Who, or what are you inspired by in a creative sense? Ribal: Sumaya, Wael, Fadi, and Ramsay. And infants. Gil: The three F’s: Flow, feel and form. If you could have any designer in the world make something amazing, especially for you, who would it be? And what would it be? Ribal: If he were alive, I would have Dali design me a headpiece. Gil: The missing piece of my soul; a handmade Superteam insignia ring that has been singing to me in my sleep for the past 7 years. Lucky for me, as of a few weeks ago a woman whose worth can not be put to pages entered my life and changed it forever. Thank you Zora Bell-Boyd, with all my heart. I will never take that ring off. Have you ever had a ‘Eureka’ moment? If so, describe it…Ribal: I was riding a morning train, reading a book on symbolism, when all of a sudden I saw two distinct parallel lines form in my mind. I deduced that these represented the conscious and unconscious aspects of my life. Then, a perpendicular line connected these two lines. I interpreted this as the bridge in which I exist upon. All of a sudden, a number of bridges were formed to connect these two parallel lines. I dwelled on this for a moment until I saw this ‘ladder’ start to twist and turn in my mind until it turned in to a double helix structure. Obviously, I recognized this as a strand of the basic building blocks of life. As I continued to ponder, I then noticed myself gracefully jumping from rung to rung, flipping about and quite simply using the DNA as my playground. It all became kind of overwhelming after that and I dropped my book the moment that brief instance of ‘Eureka’ became apparent. It was a nice one. Gil: Always. Indescribable. Basheeshed. Have you ever had a reading by a psychic? If so, what did they say? Ribal: When I was 11, an old clairvoyant man told me that throughout my life I would use the mountains as a place of refuge and rejuvenation and that I would need to spend time in them every year. I guess he was spot on. Gil: No Sir. What do you secretly wish you were fantastic at? Ribal: Martial Arts Gil: Wishing is for blowing out candles. One line from a song that inspires you… Ribal: “Then take me disappearing’ through the smoke rings of my mind, down the foggy ruins of time” – Bob Dylan Gil: I’ll grow old/happily/with a stream of love/down by the creek -JJW If you weren’t taking amazing photos, what would you be doing? Ribal: Something that exists between Mathematics and Anthropology. Gil: Making many amazing things in a non-photo format. Sound and Light have been my two great loves, if I was not married to Light, I would be having some serious sex with sound. If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be? Ribal: I would turn all the change into notes. Or the position of zero. Gil: Everything in the world is changing all the time. What are you listening to at the moment? Ribal: The voices in my head. Gil: Child, Willow Darling, Harmony Byrne, Jumpin’ Jack William and Redcoats. What are you reading? Ribal: 'The Red Book' by Carl Jung Gil: The mind behind the ink of the old brain books. Do you have a favourite TV series? Ribal: We actually don’t have a TV Gil: We don’t have a TV. Film? Ribal: Anything by Aronofsky, Von Trier, Nolan, Van Sant, fuck there are heaps. Gil: Fujifilm 120, Reala Colour Negative, ISO 100. Fashion designer? Ribal: Yohji Yamamoto, Azzedine Alaia, Peter Strateas, Mario-Luca Carlucci, McQueen, Galliano, Westwood, fuck there are heaps here too. Gil: Strateas.Carlucci...City in the world? Ribal: The inner-city. Gil: Sadly, I have never left Australian shores...Beach or place to watch the sunset? Ribal: The mountains in the motherland. Gil: Any place the sun sets is fine by me. The less buildings, the better.