There are encounters which leave a mark on you, by their intensity and because of their emotional as well as creative depths, by the moment shared perhaps, as an impalpable magnetic pull. Even if we had stayed a little shy with her during our first interview, the moment was rich.
The editorial board of Normal Magazine has followed and admired the work of Irina Ionesco for a long time, from the very moment where we discovered it. A unique ambiance, a dark and gloomy atmosphere, a jolt both erotic and emotional. Then we stumbled upon the autobiographical movie of her daughter, 'My Little Princess', and inevitably, it forged in us a biased and misleading image of her, temporarily anyway. The scandalous aspect set aside, Irina Ionesco is a monument in her field, a real and decisive influence on the medium of photography, particularly nude photography.
She quickly invited us to her home after being introduced by one of her friends, the photographer M. Malika we left the boundaries of Paris, by the Vincennes Woods, entered her flat and took the elevator. A small sized 80 year-old woman opened the door. Her face was pale, emaciated, under chestnut hair styled in a bun, eyebrows in V dominated her eyes full of stories. She wore a dark dress and a scarf with jewelry she had brought back from Egypt and from the Victorian period. Her hands had tattoos of snakes. We entered a salon enriched by amber fumes, already saturated by the scarlet walls and filled with knickknacks, portraits of her daughter, her grandson, her cats, her muses… Side tables and coffee tables filled with beautiful books piled together with prints, frames and letters were scattered in the room. A single unity in the apartment: a monomania, common to all of its walls, the presence of her daughter.
Under a dim light accentuated by the darken evening outside, we peruse all these objects in more details, and our attention falls on a large fat box placed on a Persian carpet, one of her books in jet black fabric, set in an all too funereal sarcophagus cabinet, laminated cover adorned by a solid silver skull set on crows’ feet on all four corners.
We sat and began our interview. She told us in a soft and poised voice how she started in photography…