It was my first time shooting abroad and Antwerp happened to be the city to kick things off in. There I found a new, tetris-like monument called the MAS Museum and inside, I was treated to a lovely, chance encounter with a stunning Belgian called Jessica. Up until the moment we spoke, Jessica was moving between galleries and artworks in total dazed intrigue, oblivious to the rest of the museum-goers and even better, completely inattentive to her own allure.
We recently caught up with Jessica to talk about the color black, the pleasures of people-lurking, and the photographers who best depict a woman’s sex appeal. Complete interview here.
Jessica in front of Anne-Mie Van Kerckhovens colorful murals at the MAS Museum of Antwerp (photo by Xavier Aaronson)
BATM: Hello Jessica! Pretend we’ve never met and please introduce yourself.
Jessica: I am a twenty year old ‘Babe’ from Belgium and go by the name Jessica or Jess. I am currently doing a whole lot of things such as studying linguistics (I’m pursuing a career in the media, a dream of mine is to be a journalist, but then again I have many dreams…) studying drama and theatre, trying to get a taste of culture whenever I can and of course working as a waitress to pay for my sometimes ridiculously expensive lifestyle!
For those who weren’t at MAS in Antwerp that fateful day, could you recount how you and Babes At The Museum crossed paths?
I met Xavier at the MAS-museum in Antwerp.I was doing a little city trip with my parents, but he managed to steal me away from them for a few moments to ask for a few photographs. I was more than happy to participate in such a lovely project, of course!
What was your reaction?
This is an answer most girls will give: I was flattered. At first I have to admit, it seemed a bit dodgy, which has nothing to do with Xavier but with the way society makes us suspicious of everyone and everything. Luckily I actually love to meet other people and experience new things, so I was easily taken in by this lovely project (and felt even more enthusiastic when I saw the pictures he took!).
Do you recall what you were wearing the day of the encounter?
Luckily I have the photo to remind me! I was wearing some skinny black pants, black heeled boots and a loose rust-colored sweater. I had on a tailored black coat and a black scarf (I do love my blacks.)
Do you give special consideration to what you wear when you’re going to the museum?
I always give consideration to what I’m wearing. I am a firm believer of the Power of Fashion. In a society where you are, want to or not, judged by your appearance, I believe it is important to make a certain kind of statement. I think it can really express who you are and show of your creativity.
What’s the best time to go to a museum?
I am always in the mood to visit a museum, as long as they’re is in my field of interest. I guess the only time I wouldn’t go in one would be if it was a.) very crowded b.) amazing weather outside, but you don’t get that often in Belgium!
I really enjoyed visiting the Guggenheim and the DDR museum in Berlin during winter time: going inside a warm museum is the best remedy against unbearably cold winter- weather.
Are you the voyeur type?
I have to admit, I am quite the ‘people-lurker’… I love watching others, to see how they’re dressed or just to see their behavior. I hope that doesn’t sound too creepy! But most of the time I am wrapped up in a some painting when I’m visiting a museum, so you won’t find me staring at others too much there.
Is there an artist that touches your senses the most?
I like abstract and surrealist painters, such as the great Picasso or Dalì, and fell in love with Miro when I saw his paintings in the MOMA in New York. I also became a bit more familiar with the work of Kadinsky there, whom I loved as well, and Gustav Klimt. I absolutely ADORE his painting ‘Hope’. The colors, the feel of it… Sooo beautiful!
Which artist best depicts the female allure?
Oh god, what a difficult question! I usually tend to like photographers better when it comes to portraiture, I love the way you can play with lighting and positioning with a camera. The ‘naughty/playful’ side of women portrayed by Ellen Von Unwerth is very edgy and erotic, something I do admire (as long as it doesn’t get tacky). I also like Edward Steichen’s way of portraying women dark and mysterious or the fashion photographs of Richard Avedon.
Photo from Ellen Von Unwerth’s “Revenge” book
What was your last trip to the museum like?
The last museum I’ve been to was the FoMu in Antwerp. FoMu stands for ‘Fotomuseum’, which basically means a museum with only photographs. I myself am quite into photography and had very high hopes for this museum! It had some lovely sections, but it was still a bit of a let-down.. I did ab-so-lu-te-ly love the exposition of Peter Lindbergh though, a fashion photographer of supermodels. Sounds cliché, and… well , I guess it is, but I was still very impressed with his work haha.
Which artist would make the best fashion designer?
I would have to say Gustav Klimt again. He would pay such attention to detail and make gorgeous dresses. Just look at this painting :
Gustav Klimt. Adele Block-Bauer’s portrait. (1907)
Is the museum something you like to enjoy by yourself mostly or with groups of friends?
I enjoy a museum most when I’m on my own. Sadly, I still don’t have my drivers license and am therefore ‘stuck’ with group excursions. But on the other hand, I always like to share opinions when it comes to art, so in that way it is fun when you are with somebody.
If the museum had to bend the rules on something, what would it be?
The traditional museum has a firm rule: do not touch anything. There are some modern museums who invite you to actually ‘work with’ that what is on exposition. It’s a whole new way of experiencing culture, which I like. For example, dancing to ancient tribal vibes or touching certain objects in real life is a new vision on how one can experience a museum.
Also, why no snacks?