Kenneth Willardt Presents "Size Does Matter"

Danish photographer Kenneth Willardt is going big with his debut show "Size Does Matter." The fashion photographer established himself as a creative force behind worldwide campaigns for Maybelline and L’Oreal, and now he’s unveiling his first solo exhibition with the help of Wilhelmina plus-sized supermodel Robyn Lawley. The show opens November 8 at 558 Gallery, but first comes the opening party this Thursday at 7pm.

Milk Made met up with Willardt to get the scoop on the interactive artwork (including the first ever fine art 3D projection mapping in the Chelsea Art District), the menagerie of critters recruited for the shoots and why party guests won’t want to miss a teeny tiny show held in the gallery’s basement. For the best preview, download the 4D Viewing app, then scan the QR codes to the left before viewing the photos. Seriously, you won’t want to miss it.

Milk Made: How did you start working on "Size Does Matter"?

Kenneth Willardt: It all started with shooting Robyn Lawley. I met her and I thought she was fantastic. She’s this beautiful Aussie girl, six-foot-two, and I just thought she would look really beautiful naked with a lot of different animals around her.

MM: What does "Size Does Matter" mean?

KW: It’s up to everybody’s own imagination to interpret what that means for them. I’m not going to put any judgment on it.

MM: What will the party look like?

KW: There are eight prints in the show and then we made the space downstairs into like a "Size Does Matter" world — we have a little performance with little people. I think it works very well into the theme because every size does matter. It’s a fun, interesting little factory and it tells what we’ve been doing all these months — it has been like a little factory and this is a small illustration of that.

MM: Did you always plan to use your entire studio?

KW: This is my first show in New York, and when you do something you should go all the way and have a good time because that’s what life is all about — that’s why we’re here. You could be afraid of a show with a big naked curvy girl with animals, but if you have a thought just put it out there and that’s what I do with my pictures.

MM: Was it fun doing the shoots?

KW: I had a great time. The shoots were done over 6 months. We had all the animals and everybody was having a good time, especially because it wasn’t for any commercial product so it was just very free. It was my first fine art project.

MM: Was that a live octopus in one of the photos?

KW: No, it just died so it was very fresh and very stinky and very smelly. It was the most disgusting thing to hold on to but Robyn did an amazing job. The tarantulas were alive on her. First I started shooting her and asked if it was OK if I put the tarantula on her. We put one on — we had eight — and I said, Can we put another one, another one, another one? And she was totally cool. To put a tarantula on your hand is kind of freaky, but she was so cool with the whole thing and it went really well and the pictures speak for themselves.

MM: What are the augmentative reality elements I hear about?

KW: The augmentative reality will be in each picture so if you download the 4D Viewer app you’ll be able to get a special experience, and at the same time we’re doing a 3D animated projection on the building right across the street.

MM: Why did you decide to add AR elements to the show?

KW: I thought it added another layer to something that I already feel is complete, but I’ve always been on the forefront of technologies. I made the software LiveEdit and a lot of photographers are using it now. I think this is something else that is interesting, especially for art. Whoever buys these images will have the little QR code and wherever they are they can use it.

MM: So really your entire studio will be transformed for the show.

KW: Exactly. Upstairs will be a hangout/makeout room. It’ll be all red lights up here, a little mysterious space away from the music downstairs. We’re going to be playing music on every floor. It’s a 4D experience, from the pictures, to the augmented reality, to the projections on the wall across the street, to the inside and downstairs in the lounge.

MM: Is there anything else that you want people to know about before they arrive?

KW: I want them to download the 4D Viewer app for the added experience and I think they should come with an open mind and have a good time.

Size Does Matter will be open to the public at 558 Gallery from November 8 – December 8, 2013, by appointment only.

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