ICONIC TO ME IS SOMETHING THAT MY MUM COULD DRAW A PICTURE OF.
Maxime Ballesteros is a French photographer based in Berlin for more than a decade. His images have served as a document of scenes and subcultures as they vividly illustrate intimate, once in a lifetime moments. For JETSET, he created this very intimacy in the safety of a suite in the heart of Berlin. The horizon as a backdrop, Maxime takes us on a journey into the future of JETSET.
I THINK IT'S SAFE TO SAY YOUR WORK EXPLORES, AND REFLECTS ON, COMMUNITY. YOU PUT A FOCUS ON GLAMOUR, EXCESS, AND SEX. I CAN SEE SIMILARITIES TO THE ORIGINAL JET-SET OF THE 60'S, 70'S, 80'S. IS THAT AN INTERESTING SCENE FOR YOU, A POINT OF REFERENCE MAYBE? WHAT DO YOU ASSOCIATE WITH IT?
I would agree that my work definitely explores, and reflects on community. The glamour, excess and sex comes with some of them, and I’ve been there often to observe and try to capture it. The 60’s-80’s were a very special moment in time. I was not born yet so can only fantasise about it. Very often, we associate that period of time with freedom, and it definitely was a break from the decades that preceded, but I can not tell exactly what the mentality really was. In the 60’s for example, the US were just starting to put an end to segregation. There was also the signing of the Equal Pay Act, but until the late 80’s women were still earning about 40% less than men. War, riots, baby boom, moon landing, the formation of the Sata- nic Church, May '68 in France. Let’s just say that it has been the start of a lot of things that we’re trying to either keep alive today, or push forward.
As for the jet set itself, it was I think, a dream machine, a beautiful one, of very few that set trends and could live without much to worry about. The golden years just before the fast invasion of the internet. It was an era I never knew and never will, but still I have a sense of nostalgia that makes me think of it as a moment in time when life seemed easier and less scary. Perhaps simply because we didn’t know as much as we do today, didn’t have access to as much information. When it was still possible to live on a cloud. Maybe deep inside, all of us strive a little bit to get back a piece of that sweet naivety, that warmth and ease of mind. When the world still seemed endless, far destinations made us dream becau- se they very much felt unknown.
WHAT DOES FREEDOM MEAN TO YOU?
Freedom together with air, water and food is the most important thing in our life. At least in my eyes ho- wever, it can also be one of the scariest things. Total freedom can be petrifying. The greatest art, inven- tion, pretty much everything, was created under a form of pressure, restraint, even if it when it was of one’s own will and decision. I think it’s a very complex concept, that has many layers and as many signi- ficances. Physical freedom and the freedom of spirit or the heart are very different things.
YOU LIKE GREAT HEIGHTS. HOW WOULD YOU EXPLAIN THEIR SIGNIFICANCE TO YOU?
I’m just scared of them. I actually have vertigo to some extent. What I think I like about them is the idea of pushing away that fear and starting to enjoy it. This little rush of adrenaline is so easy to gain, I try to never miss an opportunity of climbing up somewhere. And definitely, the sights and the feeling I get out of it are absolutely worth it.
DO YOU ASPIRE BEING BRAVE?
Not specially. I have not been raised that way. I just get annoyed at myself when useless fears get in my way. And I have tones of them. I was born a very anxious person, and am spending my life trying to untie as much as I can inside of me. I’m not especially competitive either. I don’t think it’s being brave, or aspiring to be. It’s really just about trying to make my life easier, and being able to be there for others in certain situations, in a rational way and not eaten up by angst.
TELL ME ABOUT SPORTS – YOU CYCLE QUITE A BIT. ANY WINTER SPORTS? HOW IMPORTANT IS PHYSICALITY AND ACTIVITY FOR YOU, AND HOW DOES IT EXPRESS?
Biking simply makes me very happy. I miss it when I don’t do it. Moving my body in general makes me happy, but I’ve been on the bicycle a lot ever since I was a little kid, and it’s one thing that I never stop- ped loving, I actually love it more and more each day. In the city, on the open roads, in the mountains, doesn’t matter. I’ve always liked to pick very few things in my life, but practise them a lot, because when you reach a certain level, I think that's when you really start to enjoy that practise. You get creative with it, or learn to shut down your brain and do it with your eyes closed. I adore everything that has wheels.
Snowboarding has a special place in my heart, not only do I find it to be one of the best feelings on earth, but you also get to breathe clean and fresh air in beautiful mountains. I really adore snowboarding as a whole. I grew up very close to the mountains, so I would take the bus with my friends to go the the ski stations early in the morning, and come back in the evening. A very close friend of mine also had ski instructors in their family, we could stay at their place for free. This allowed me to spend a large part of my teens on a snowboard. Mostly learning to go very, very fast, most of the time outside of the set tracks, on that mountain that we knew so well, being the first to leave a trace on fresh snow.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT JET SET DURING THE SHOOT, WHAT DO YOU ASSOCIATE WITH THE BRAND ITSELF?
The collection surprised me, in a very good way!
CAN YOU EXPLAIN TO ME YOUR DEFINITION OF THE TERM ICONIC IF YOU HAVE ONE? BE IT RE- LATED TO A PERSON OR CLOTHING, A LOOK IF YOU WANT. AND HOW THEY RELATE TO EACH OTHER. (ESPECIALLY GIVEN THAT YOU PRETTY MUCH EXCLUSIVELY DRESS IN BLACK.)
Iconic to me is something that my mum could draw a picture of.