Sebastian Magnani, photographer from Switzerland. Photo © Courtesy of the artist
1.Tell us what you do and your beginnings.
I’m a fine art photographer, but all started differently. I discovered my love for photography during my apprenticeship as a media-designer. Over the years it transformed my biggest passion into a business. I became self-employed, mainly as a portrait photographer, and was able to acquired several clients.
But day-by-day I got more frustrated and unhappy to work like a service provider. For most of the shootings I did not get much time, was not booked for what I can do best, so I felt really replaceable – also the quality was low. My dream looked different than my reality.
I just did not get the appreciation that I was looking for. I was less and less happy and my passion decreased day by day. So I decided to leave everything behind me, give all up and to just focus on my personal art projects. And, let’s say, to give everything up for something new without any big financial backup was hard for me. But when your drive is missing, you can’t focus energy and can’t give your best, especially when you are an extremely passionated person, so I had to decided the path of happiness and fulfillment for myself.
Now I’m working independent and travel the world with my current project “Daily Bat”. I’m so much more passionated and left all the fear and struggles behind me and focus on the ‘now’, which means creating art, where I can be 100% me. And with that you will always touch people‘s hearts.
2.What does your work aim to say?
In general I love to experiment and question space. Compared to a real place which I photograph, is a space not spatially limited. So by a different and unusual interaction of the known surrounding with the unusual subject – I create a new and unique space. This interaction between the atoms really stimulates me and creates a lot of contrast and energy. Reality transform more into fantasy. And with that process, I always question reality too.
In my current project “Daily Bat” I show Batman in his unseen daily life. By replacing him in unusual places instead of the known fighting surroundings, I show the character in another context and confront the viewer slightly: What would be the world with a jobless superhero? In my view it would be a better place, where human beings taking responsibility for their actions – a better world. They can’t give the responsibility to superheroes for saving them by themselves. I think with more respect and tolerance between the people it could work. Taking care for each other instead of being selfish.
The pandemic and lockdowns added another layer to the whole project: people identified themselves with my “Daily Bat”: It was no longer possible to just have a drink in a bar or read the morning newspaper in a café. Suddenly you had to stay behind your four walls – freedom was gone – there was only work and no more leisure activities and variations. Hence, I touched a lot of additional people emotionally with my project.
3.Where do you find inspiration for your art?
Life is full of inspiration: I love music, nature, to travel, books, movies, all the different food and their flavors, just everything. Digitally I’m a huge fan of Instagram. You are connected with all the people around the world. But I also love the work of masters like my favorite photographers Annie Leibovitz and David LaChapelle or artists like Damien Hirst and Edward Hopper. It’s really stimulating.
But more important than only the inspiration is to bring everything together and find an idea, which I think is based on a chemical reaction between all your past experiences together with the subconscious, where get creates an unique spark – the idea – the start of everything.
4.Could you give us some insight into your creative process?
It’s a long process, but I take all the time that I need. Everything starts with a first sketch. Then I scout a lot of possible locations, online and then the final place in real. Booking the location, looking for additional probs which could add value to the whole artwork. Then finding suitable date with one of my models. For the first seven artworks I worked with one model. On the additional series involved a second model and mixed it up with myself, my girlfriend and some other guests, depending on the location. Then the shooting for one hour including setup.
Afterwards selecting out of hundreds of pictures the final artwork during a period of several months! And then retouching, editing the colors and creating the final mood, test-printing for the right size and publishing. As you can see, I invest a lot of time for one artwork. But I believe in quality instead of quantity.
5.What are your future projects?
Currently I’m focusing on my “Daily Bat’s”, which slowed down a little bit during the last years because of the pandemic, but that’s my main focus. I will have a first big solo-show in New York City at Guy Hepner, then I would love to make a first book. I have tons of ideas and I will continue questioning the definition of space, especially in times where everything goes digital based on numbers 0 and 1.
Sebastian Magnani on social networks: Instagram
Sebastian Magnani (Zurich, 1985) is a Swiss photographer, visual artist and creative director who mostly creates portraits with strong colors through iconic figures that invite the viewer to reflect on daily life, especially in this historical period due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “Daily Bat” is the most famous series in which the artist reveals in some way the private life of Batman, one of the superheroes par excellence, in an ordinary and contemporary context.
In each work, Magnani digitally portrays the superhero in the most intimate moments and to which we are not used to seeing him, capturing the most vulnerable mood between melancholy, loneliness and moments of leisure: in the pool, on a golf course, while reading a book in the library and even in a solarium! In short, when the superhero is not at work, when he is not committed to saving the world from the bad guys. The emotional strength of each photograph is encapsulated in the contrast of strong colors surrounding the dark figure of Batman.
So, what kind of life would superheroes have in private life? Sebastian Magnani’s version of Batman could definitely be a wonderful answer!