- Meet Sheri Chiu exclusively inside Normal Magazine issue 1 & 6 -
How did you become a model ?
I grew up in Hong Kong and in New York City, I’ve always been involved in some charity fashion galas in my schools. After I passed all this years backstage, my curiosity pushed me under the spotlights. I auditioned for a model job on the catwalks of my college, I was casted and I began to build a portfolio. I became an Art model later on, an approbation and recognition desire. Growing up in a fashion world in Hong Kong, then growing up in the city of freedom and seduction : New York, I was not really aware of my actions. I reacted to every little things which were made for me, always looking for esteem for myself and some power feelings.
What is your link with Nude Art ?
I was lost when I began my modeling career and I wanted to use this expression medium as a tool to atone for my broken image. When I started, I filled with the photographers’ compliments in order to stimulate my self-esteem — being naked is being beautiful. Now, being an Art model means to use one’s body as a tool to express oneself, as a medium to communicate the photographer’s vision. More importantly, nudity is freedom and I find happiness doing it.
To be model is to be exhibitionist ?
I think that being a model and being an exhibitionist is two different things, but I am both thing at the same time. I do not really want to draw attention as an exhibitionist. I love acting, performing under surveillance. If we meet outside a photoshoot sequence, I’m a very simple person !
Your worst experience ?
The best one ?
I am incredibly lucky to have many great experiences so picking one would seem unfair towards the other experience ! But the most memorable shootings are the one of Eugenio Recuenco, Ren Hang, Jean François Gschwindt, Formento + Formento, Bretagne Markert, Gary Breckheimer, and Nicolas Guérin. I often work with them so we bonded further than the work boundaries. Working with Recuenco was incredible by the value of his production : that was the first time I worked with such a pro ! I was so nervous due to the detailed setting, with different games during a couple of days : an entire forest made of tyres. I was the little Red Rinding Hood trying to find way back! Another setting was made in order to convey the impression that I was underwater, free-diving, no water involved. One of my favourite photoshoot was the one with Nicolas, a leader on bondage realized for Khube Magazine. The photoshoot took place in an old cement studio. The props involved a kimono, natural light, and a shibari artist. Unlike Recuenco’s work, the production was minimalist, but the pictures were my favourite and still are, because they proves that a beautiful picture can be the result of simplicity.
Which are the requirements to be good model ?
I think that a good model should be well-read and have some knowledge in visual arts and dances. Being able to offer a variety of moves and posed without nay fear of being ridiculous. It’s always easier to canalize a model which offers so much, it’s better than pushing a model to do more. I think a good models able to offer emotions and to make decisions. He has to be able to listen to the photographer’s rules and to apply them.
Place to relax ?
I like relaxing in parks, near brooks, and quiet cafés.
The most photogenic place ?
I really like the variety of the Californian landscapes and the intensity of New York.
A book ?
The trilogy of New York by Paul Auster.
Contemporary photographers you admire ?
Andreas Gursky, Gregory Crewdson, Nadav Kandar, Steve McCurry, Erwin Olaf, Nick Knight, Roger Ballen, Paolo Roversi, Ruan McGinley, Nobuyoshi Araki, Gregory Colbert, Eugenio Recuenco, Todd Hido, Sarah Moon
Does nudity in photography tend to link to a sexualization ?
Nudity is our natural state ! This state has been modified due to perception of the medias. Most often, nudity is linked to porn or art, without spreading to other environment. It sidesteps the issue. We can be naked without being sexy and the other way around !
An anecdote during a shooting ?
My most difficult photoshoot was with Res Hang where I was hanging from the ceiling. I had to put a dead pigeon in my mouth, octopus tentacles in my vagina, a fish head on my shoulder and a cherry tomato in my bottom for his previous project ! But most recently, I worked with Res on a work where I was attached by the ankles with ropes ; I was hanging from the ceiling, and I ws asked to put my head into a bag filled with water and goldfishes. That was one of the most difficult photoshoot I took part in ! My blood went right to my head and I could not breathe inside the bag of water and it entered in my nostrils. The question still remains : why should I do things like that ? Because I trust Ren’s vision. I understand that the model gives everything for the good picture, the image is lying on the models’ shoulders as well as the photographers’ ones.
Your typical day ?
I cook and I do yoga every day ! I trained my cat, Shadow, to fool around. Now, I am an English private teacher for French kids. I usually end up the day with some curling in bed with my husband and watching a good movie.
Your project ?
I plan to go back to New York and to pursue a carrer away from fashion. Maybe going back to school. I might be working with animals. But there is one thing that will remain : I’ll keep posing naked !