It’s A Small, Small World…

By on July 7, 2016

(This article was originally published in May 2015)


Berleween-Jolixor-portraitHer pictures are truly unique in the world of Hipstamatic and once you get over your initial perplexity, you automatically find yourself plunging into a delightful universe of miniatures. It’s a funny, poetic and sometimes quite cynical little world, which reawakens childhood memories. She received the "Hipstamatic Creative Concept Award" during the last Hipstography Awards, and I had the immense pleasure of meeting Berlewen Jolixor at the Click. Boom. Amazing! exhibition, in Brussels. I decided to have her undergo a little therapy session… on the program: childhood issues, troubles with the law and creative schizophrenia.


So, Berlewen, you were obviously deprived of toys when you were a child. Is photography your way of exorcising your demons?

Berlewen: No, I wasn’t deprived of toys at all, except maybe for Barbie dolls, which were definitely not allowed. Photography just happens to be the only way that I can enjoy total freedom of expression! You don’t have to justify yourself, there’s no doubt or confusion, but rather a child-like joy about the subject matter. Sometimes the images I’ve imagined in my head are just not very feasible.


Berlewen Jolixor, isn’t a very common name? Were your parents trying to be original?

Ha ha! Well, neither my first name nor my last are genuine. I love Kaamelott, the series, and one of the characters is called Berlewen. I liked it because it’s not gender specific.


What is your experience with photography? And, how did you become acquainted with Hipstamatic?

I studied at the Beaux-Arts in Lyon, so I have an art degree. I think I once told an employee at the ANPE (National Employment Agency): "I don’t work, but that’s fine, I create!" I’ve always been into photography but I have to admit that I enjoyed the process of developing more so than actually shooting the pictures. Once I graduated I wanted to work in communication and do video, which I did (a documentary at the Cousteau Oceanic Park), but it’s full of sharks (no pun intended). I very happily ended up working in the restoration of historic monuments where I discovered the contemplation of others' work and became very adept at "faking": fake wood, fake marble, lime paints and glazes. I then became a mother and I watched as two of my most marvelous creations took shape, realizing that I will never ever create anything as beautiful as my children! But children are very time-consuming; they grow up and eventually they don’t need you anymore (well, to a lesser extent, in any case). In 2011, my husband gave me my first iPhone – against his better judgment, he’s more of a Samsung man, himself. As I was scouring the Apple Store for photo apps, I was totally seduced by Hipstamatic. I made my first pictures in New York in 2012.


Where does your passion for the figurines come from?

I was given a book about the street artist Slinkachu and it truly was a revelation! This is what I always wanted to do… For the longest time, I didn’t really do anything; I needed time to digest all those images. My brother gave me my first Preiser figures but I really didn’t do much with them at all. Not until 2014, when I discovered Florian Bilges' pictures in Snap magazine. I looked his name up online and that's how I stumbled across his portfolio on Hipstography. That’s when I realized that you can make awesome pictures with your phone and Hipstamatic! On May first, 2014, I signed up to Facebook, Instagram and, of course, Oggl. To cut a long story short, my Fuji X100 ended up in a closet and I started building my own little universe! Also, the figurines have exceedingly good manners and never question my choices. They’re always willing to pose for hours on end, without complaint; they are always happy with the end result (I have 500 friends who love my work, not bad, right?)


Even during the Click. Boom. Amazing!-vernissage, you were constantly shooting. Do you ever stop?

For the past year, it really has been a major part of my daily existence! Wherever I go, I’m always on the lookout for that one object to focus on. It’s a curse! When I visit friends, I will inevitably leave with an ashtray or a bottle opener. When I go out to dinner, the figurines come out too!


So, that means that you are always carrying around figurines and other accessories in your handbag. Aren’t you scared the police might decide to search your bag?

Yes and yes! I currently have three bags: small, medium and large, depending on my requirements and where I’m going. I have actually been stopped and searched a few times: it’s always very funny when I open my bag! Especially for the police officer searching me... as for me, I'm usually a little embarrassed.


For the type of pictures you make, what do you prefer: Oggl or Hipstamatic?

I like Oggl a lot for its community and the ease of access to the films and lenses; it allowed me to find my favorite combos, but what made me change my mind, was the ability to play around with the depth of field, and that’s of poor quality in Oggl. It’s hard to get a clear focus on the subject if it’s too close in the foreground. That’s something that works a lot better in Classic. If you hold your finger on the subject in the foreground, you get a clear focus on it and the background ends up blurry.


What are your favorite combos?

My favorite is Lowy/Blanko 1, but I also really like Lowy/Robusta. As far as black-and-white is concerned, my preference goes to Hornbecker/BlacKeys ExtraFine.

And, if I may ask, who exactly is Number 1?

Ah! Number 1 is a character from the dark and poetic world of Tim Burton. I’m touched by his cynicism and disenchantment; he’s biased in his view of things and, on top of that, he’s extremely photogenic.


So, what lies in your future? What can we expect from you?

Right now, I’m heading for the kitchen. I need to start cooking dinner ;-) I’d like to refine things even more and try some more graphic stuff. I might also try my hand at animation…


Who are the hipstographers you admire?

All of those I can remember!


"Brussels, once upon a time..."

Lens:  Lowy 
Film:  Robusta 
Flash: off

This post is also available in: French

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