Toomas Volkmann. Behind the scenes + interview

The Three Empresses titles a photoshoot featuring TVJ muses Merle, Evelin, and Nnenna by Toomas Volkmann.

The MINERALIA collection preparations included the making of the “Kingdom of Dreams” book – a comprehensive overview of the past 10 years of the brand’s active involvement in the Estonian design field. It is a dedication to our muses – models, fellow artists, and community members. Along the line, it seemed only logical to include our muses into the making of MINERALIA as well. A photoshoot with new silk items came to life through the eye of Toomas Volkmann. See the photos and the making of below!

Toomas Volkmann is one of the most renown photographers in Estonia who has made some of the most iconic works in the field of fashion. Tanel’s partnership with him roots back many years and brings results that are hard to mimic: “He is Estonia’s most powerful portraitist, skilled at coaxing dim depths of the soul to the surface.”

Preview from the book “Kingdom of Dreams”

Interview with Toomas Volkmann by Tanel Veenre. EST / ENG

Ma imetlen kõige enam sinu portreid, need ei ole ajas oma mõjust grammigi kaotanud. Mis sind köidab inimese juures?
Minu jaoks on ikka veel maagiline foto võime seisata portreteeritava elukulg peaaegu olematuks hetkeks. Halastamatult eemaldades liikumise, sõnad, peatades hingamise ja pulsi randmel – kõik see värelev, mänguline, muutuv, selgeksõpitud ilmumiste tulevärk või peitusemäng ühe sõrmevajutusega, et hetkest saaks igavikuline tagasipööramatu vorm. Ainumas. Tihtilugu pole mu portreed portreteeritavaga sarnased, no ses mõttes, et ei saa kohe sõrme peale panna ja öelda, et näe, see on Ants ja too Aino. Hetkes ja igavikus ongi inimene teist nägu. Ja see TEINE mind köidabki.

Sa oled intellektuaalne looja. Kui palju on see sind aidanud, kui palju takistanud?
Ilmselt pead silmas minu kiindumust teatavat tüüpi stilistilistesse hoiakutesse, nagu seda näeb vararenessansi portreedel ja klassitsismi perioodil. Puhas vorm ja staatilisus on mind alati köitnud. Foto juures lisandub veel olukorra abstraktsus, (varjatud) erapooletus, mida on keerukas sõnaga tähistada või kirjeldada. Mind on see aidanud portreteeritavate valikul ja dramaturgilise värvi loomisel, ilma et nad ise sellest midagi teaksid. Paralleelid nähtu ja loetuga on väga kohal. Kuskil kuklas suhtlen Memlingu, van der Weydeni, Antonello da Messina ja Belliniga. Lõpliku kaadri valikul võib tekkida keerukaid olukordi, kus kadunud kuulsuste vaimud võivad liialt sõnakaks muutuda. Eks siis tuulutan pööningut …

Lühinägeliku vaatlejana oskad kindlasti üldistada, kuidas on moemaailm viimase paarikümne aastaga muutunud?
Kõigepealt – mood pole lihtsalt enam moes. Mitte see, et moes pole olla moes, mis annaks võimaluse (mitte-moodsate) alternatiivide tekkeks. Üheksakümnendate keskpaigani oli mood seotud vähemal või suuremal määral kultuurilise, subkultuurilise, sotsiaalse või poliitilise kuuluvusega. See oli kodeeritud süsteem. Viimane selles reas oli ehk grunge. Praegune lipukiri „lubatud on kõik“ võtab igasuguse mängutahte. Mood marginaliseerub, killustub nagu kõik muugi. Retroderetroderetro sõidab mälukaotuses tarbija rahakotirauad maha. Aga ilmselt pole moel kui nähtusel enam suurt ega olulist peegeldada, et seda sotsiaal-kultuuriliselt vaadelda.

Sul on linna kõige esteetilisemad ja disainiajaloo teadlikumad kodud. Mingil ajal liikusidki moefotograafiast sujuvalt sisekujundusse. Mida annab sinu jaoks töö ruumiga?
Foto on haiku, interjöör on romaan.

Millest praegu unistad?
Elu on pöörasem kui ükskõik missugune unistus.

I admire your portraits the most, and they haven’t lost a gram of their impact. What fascinates you in a person?
A photograph’s power to halt the course of the subject’s life for a nearly non-existent instant. When we mercilessly remove movement, words, and stop breathing and the pulse in the wrist – all of that trembling, playful, changing, learned fireworks of appearances or hide-and-seek – with one press of a finger so that the moment is turned into an eternal irrevocable form. Unique. Often my portraits are not similar to the subjects, well in the sense that you can’t point to it and say, that’s Ants and that’s Aino. A person has a different face, so to speak, in the moment and in eternity. And that OTHER is what fascinates me.

You’re an intellectual artist. How much has that helped you and how much has it impeded you?
You’re probably referring to my fondness for a certain type of stylistic attitude, as can be seen in Early Renaissance portraits and during the Neoclassical period. Pure form and the static have always fascinated me. The abstractness and (concealed) impartiality of the situation also come into play in photography, and it is complicated to denote or describe it in a word. This has helped me to choose subjects for portraits and create dramaturgical colour, without them being aware of it. Parallels between what I have seen and read are very much present. Somewhere in the back of my head, I’m in dialogue with Memling, van der Weyden, Antonello da Messina and Bellini. Complicated situations can arise in choosing the final frame, where the ghosts of dead celebrities can become too talkative. So I air out the attic…

As a short-sighted observer, you can probably generalize how the fashion world has changed in the last few decades.
First of all; fashion is no longer in fashion. It’s not that fashion isn’t in fashion, which would give a possibility for (non-modern) alternatives to arise. Up till the mid-1990s, fashion was related to a greater or lesser extent to cultural, subcultural; social or political affiliation. It was a coded system. The last in that series was perhaps grunge. The current motto, “everything is allowed”, takes away any desire to play. Fashion is becoming marginalized, fragmenting like everything else. Retro-deretro-deretro easily smashes the locks of the pocketbooks of consumers who have lost their memory. But fashion as a phenomenon probably doesn’t have anything great and important to reflect, for it to be viewed socioculturally.

At some point, you made a smooth transition from fashion photography to interior design. What does working with space give you?
Photography is a haiku; an interior is a novel.

What do you dream of these days?
Life is crazier than any dream.

Volkmann capturing TVJ muses

Merle Palmiste

Behind the scenes: letting the inner struggles come outside. Most of the time only a fracture of photos reaches the viewer.

Merle is our natural born brand ambassador. Being the true Grande Diva, she is an inspiration and a role model. Standing out with grace and beauty without losing one’s character. We’ve been happy to discover her with our creations from the front pages and embraced our events with her presents.

Merle wearing NEFFI set / VENUS silk dress / 

Evelin Võigemast

Evelin Võigemast has been TVJ’s kindred soul. From the founding date and first experiments with fashion jewellery, Evelin has been our muse and ambassador throughout the years. Evelin is featured in the book “Kingdom of Dreams” and we’ve made the interview for public free reading HERE. Find out Evelin’s thoughts about being and creating inspiration, future dreams and what motto would be on her coat of arms to declare for all.

Evelin wearing Hippo Couture pendant / Photo by Krõõt Tarkmeel for Anne&Stiil magazine

Can you find them all? Evelin wearing MINERALIA dresses, VENUS earrings and pendant, HIPPO and NEFFI rings, unique Scarab earrings, Get Lucky! bracelets. 

Nnenna

Nnenna is a young model whose exotic and bold look has taken us by heart. In a short time, new collections like MINERALIA, VENUS silk, and COMET colorful rocket earrings have been complemented by Nnenna’s character.