In this new profile series, Our Bird-About-Town Serena Belcastro interviews the interesting people behind some of Instagram’s most intriguing accounts.
Hey Pretty Birds,
I had the pleasure of having a long chat with Fabio Messana, Milan-based Fashion Editor and author of a sacrilegious yet amusing Instagram profile (account name: fabiomessana) which we’ll give you a glimpse of and encourage you to follow.
Behind the very colorful surface of the photography sets Fabio builds at his feet (while intently engaged in what may be considered the most taboo of biological functions) lies a creative universe that we set out to explore and uncover. Spending the afternoon at Fabio’s house, surrounded by the myriad of wonderful objects he has collected on his many trips to the Far East, felt very much like embarking on a journey to the hidden corners of the talented fashion-professional’s imagination.
I know you have studied architecture and have specialized in industrial design. In my opinion, a flare for “planning” is a recurring element that surfaces in your work, something I also notice on your Instagram profile. Would you agree with that?
On my Instagram there’s definitely a sense of constructing methodic, organized and I’d say almost psychotic photo sets insofar as precision in color coordinating goes, as well as the positioning of objects. However, all of that is a reflection of my current personal taste in photography and thus of an underlying spontaneity.
I find it interesting how, despite the spontaneity of the process, a kind of repetition simultaneously emerges from this project.
Yes, it is almost like an industrial production: same angle with different contents. I’d define them as snapshots of moments in which I am always the eye, the observing filter, even if there is a different mood every time. The constant is this: my point of view, at once conceptual and photographic.
What inspires you?
My professional journey can help you understand that to me, inspiration is transversal. I am very distrustful of those who do fashion and find inspiration in fashion because they risk creating a meta-discourse that generates a flux destined to consume itself. Instead, I believe in an exhaustive glance, complete with antenna receptive to anything: film, music, literature, exhibits, but also walks, or picnics. And travel. I love the Far East, as you can see from a good number of the objects found in my house. I have travelled there many times, every year, always in different places.
How often do you post your photos on Instagram?
Essentially, you cannot tell from my profile because I do not follow a schedule. It’s a process strictly tied to my moods. And I feel it is due to the fact that gaining visibility on social media is not at all congruent with my nature.
Another aspect I find interesting about your Instagram profile is your decision not to show your face, which is the exact opposite of the tendencies and trends normally associated with this social network – i.e. selfies, showing off.
Being a frontman is not in my nature, nor do I have a self-referential ego. I do not like exasperated “showing off.” If I had to define the poetics of my Instagram profile in reverse, I would say it is my answer to how this social network is “used and abused.” In my profile, you never know where I am, when I take pictures and you can never see my face. Perhaps there are a few photos where you can see my face, but I always find a way to conceal my identity.
Despite this, I seem to gather that there is a lot of “you” on your Instagram.
It is totally me! In fact, I would say that right now, Instagram represents the only outlet I have that is free of any restrictions, requests or pressure, a platform that allows me to be freely creative. I feel it is my way of constructing my own personal message.
What type of message?
Each of my photos, no matter how structured, is a snapshot of a rather realistic moment. I don’t want to get too trashy, but it’s a moment we all live with, and I think that the fact that I’ve associated this totally free creative process with a biological moment is actually part of a precise poetic message.
In fact, I like the idea of being able to demystify the fashion system a bit, a system I immerse in every day and night.
Behind all of this, therefore, there is a matrix that is highly sarcastic, ironic and a bit blasphemous insofar as the ‘sacredness’ of the fashion system. A moment that is so intimate, personal and taboo becomes a stage for the sets of fashion shootings. However, since I have no obligations, it becomes a free and liberating creative process, an answer to a lovely and creative profession yet which at a certain level brings with it a load of constant stress and limitations.
I am launching a message in a bottle, just as a castaway would: I put hopes and intentions into it but once I send it out, I am no longer the owner of that message. Nobody knows who will receive it, or how that person will acknowledge it. This aspect interests me very much, because it resembles a genuine sociological analysis.
What types of reactions have you encountered thus far?
It is not an extremely popular profile, but the people have spoken to about it, have always offered interesting points of view.
Some are receptive to its fun and colorful surface, others are able to delve deeper, acknowledging, if you will, the more cultured references or they appreciate what lies at the basis of the idea.
In any case, fun is element driving the entire thing.
This leads me to think that the creative process that you activate via Instagram gets a process rolling that is in some way therapeutic and gives you balance.
That is exactly it. I am very amused by the spirit of liberty that lies beyond these photos and it’s that same spirit that I find cathartic and reinvigorating.
Oddly, I consider this account a piece of a larger project that I would like to develop: the construction of my own self-awareness.
It is my way of viewing the world and an instrument through which to express myself.
Speaking in general terms, what is your take on Instagram?
I think it is the fastest, most direct social network, if you choose to communicate through images. It is the right one for me. Many of my pictures have titles, which is actually superfluous given the power of the images.
How do you relate to other social networks?
I do not have a Twitter account. I have a Facebook page I only occasionally use.
In general, I am pretty “old school” as far as communication goes.
I have never really felt drawn to these media, and this sometimes makes me feel excluded from a part of social life that exists today and which, in fact, nobody can disregard.
No matter whether you have a positive or negative opinion of this way of communicating, you have to deal with it because it exists and is a part of the society we live in.
Fundamentally, I feel that the fact that I continue to prefer more traditional communications media has penalized me a little as far as work is concerned. Many of my ‘print’ colleagues have succeeded in transferring their work onto social networks, yet I do not feel that that is part of my nature.
In my work life, I find myself in contact with lots of people I see once and might not see ever again. I have a part of my private life, however, that I like to nurture, protect and share with very few people.
It is not a matter of being possessive. Rather, it is an intimate world that represents a hideaway for me, that welcomes me when I finish working, travelling or partying.
From this perspective, I definitely consider myself unfashionable.
I lead a very normal private life.
Is there any Instagram account that you follow carefully?
I like profiles that unveil a strong, interesting and amusing idea.
There are some accounts out there that have an approach that is very similar to mine.
For example, CiaoBello2: a guy from Zurich who takes pictures of himself without ever showing his face. They are beauty portraits in which he uses props and accessories to hide his face yet always giving a different mood to each photo.
Another account that I really like is that of Camilla Filippi (kamillafilippi), a Roman actress who has access to wonderful cinema and theatre costumes, as well as make-up artists and uses them to parody famous characters by creating a series of snapshots in which the only constant is the frame with her intent on drinking coffee.