Sean Yseult: The States Project: Louisiana
There are opposites in everything, from black and white to good and bad. The dichotomy that makes up New Orleans is all things opposite. For me, Sean Yseult’s work represents the aspects of what makes this place different from anywhere else in the world.
Sean has a unique position going from a world famous rock star (bassist for White Zombie), whose life on stage was continuously documented, to moving to New Orleans and turning her eye to the world and being behind the lens. The Southern Gothic style to her work is overt: The lush beauty of a landscape foiled by man. The virginal innocence to the sinful underground.
I asked Sean “Why Louisiana?”
New Orleans draws me stronger than any other locale in the world through it’s rich visual history and many kindred spirits still lingering.
Sean Yseult is best known as the bass player from the multi-platinum, band White Zombie. Sean spent her formative years studying piano, violin, and later ballet at the North Carolina School of the Arts. In her senior year of high school, she switched majors to visual arts. Her photography work lead to a scholarship at Parsons School of Design NYC, where she earned a BFA in photography and graphic design. While at Parsons she co-founded the band White Zombie. After eleven years of recording and touring, the band was headlining arenas with two multi-platinum records, two Grammy Award nominations, and had become a household name. Upon White Zombie’s breakup, she moved to New Orleans in 1996 and returned to her original love of photography and design. She soon met future husband Chris Lee; in 2002, they founded the notorious Saint Bar and Lounge. Sean began showing her photography in galleries in 2002, and in 2006 started Yseult Designs, with her scarves and accessories represented in Barneys and Liberty of London. In 2010 she released an autobiographical photobook I’m In The Band (Soft Skull Press), which is now in its third edition. Her first solo photography show debuted in 2012 at the Scott Edwards Gallery to great success. She has since had four solo shows including galleries in NYC and Los Angeles.
I have been taking photos in New Orleans since the day White Zombie broke up. I fell in love with New Orleans on tour, and not so secretly told everyone I would move there as soon as I had the time. I finally did in 1996, bringing one suitcase, a guitar, a banjo, and my Polaroid Land Camera. I began shooting everything that floored me: the decrepit graveyards, the late night ladies, the musicians . . . you get the picture. Yes, another musician/artisit/writer drawn to the dark side of New Orleans. It might be a cliché, but there is a reason some of us are drawn here. I have no power over it, and despite the crime, the decay, the backasswards politics and the intolerable heat, I cannot stop loving it. I see something new and beautiful daily that inspires me to grab my camera.
The work presented here features loose women, unkempt graveyards, and musicians in various states of cognizance. I can only say I am drawn to, and find beauty in these people and places. I shot in black and white; l love the ambiguity of time encapsulated. Once a friend overheard an octogenarian claim one of my portraits was of her in the St. Louis Cemetery, as a young girl. These are the things that inspire me. I always rely on the kindness of friends (and sometimes strangers) to pose for my photos; their beauty and character is what also often inspires me.
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