In the fast growing world we are living in, we are all looking for meaning. Imagination is one of the rare space of freedom of expression as when we imagine things, create or tell stories, it is always about our vision, our voice, our point of view. As we easily put that in the faces of others, if we respect them, the search for quality should come first according to Axel J. Sannino.
Creation is the expression of a vision, a story, a point of view but it is not comfortable. Putting yourself out there is not comfortable. But I truly believe that the most beautiful forms of art comes out of the risky paths you have to take .
In 2017, when still being the founder of my first entrepreneurial project ETHIPOP, I was completely into that quest. That search of meaning and I would dive in any project that would bring that sense into my life. That would make me go beyond my boarders and take the risk to go on the other side of fear (In fact, I still do today).
At the time, I was hustling to support designers in their conquest to find their public. Among them, Pauline Avinio Darris, the founder of the brand Darris Paris. Pauline is an incredible women, that serves the world with her joy and fantasies, giving to women the opportunity to play with their accessories. Fashion is serious business in Paris but we always tried to see it as a game when collaborating together.
One day, Pauline came to me saying : “I met two incredible guys Laura, you are going to love them. They are cool, smart and are bringing a fresh eye to what we can see in the underground scene of fashion and art. They have a cool project that just came along, I think you are going to love them. Let’s have dinner at my place and talk”. A week later, I met Gaëtan and Axel, a very cool and cute couple speaking their truth with the label they had at the time called Korine, a Fashion Art Label.
That night, we literally felt in love with each other. We were so connected, sharing our vision of art, fashion, engagement in general and regarding the Parisian scene in particular. Few weeks before they were contacted by the french wing of UN Women in partnership with UNESCO to take part in the first HeForShe Arts Week event in Paris.
They were extraordinary at art direction but needed someone to work with them on the event planning, creative brands sourcing and operations which is when I came into place. In 3 weeks, we took the challenge to find a location, partners, creatives crazy enough to join us, all in favor of joining forces on the 8 of march 2017 to put art in favor of the global solidarity movement for gender equality at le musée des Arts Décoratifs (event RECAP and FULL version).
What you see is not what you get
Axel is the artist of the couple.
Actually, he prefers to be seen more as a designer than an artist as for him, he is a practitioner of life. Axel studied philosophy that he loves but he was frustrated not getting his hands dirty which brought him to do film direction and production.
His motto has always been to take a step back on what people say life should be. He could have done anything going from music to writing or graphic design (and you never know if he won’t one day) as what is important to him is to assume who he is and not being afraid of standing in his light.
In this gold rush to fame that we are living in today (thanks to social media) and the impact on the quality of visual or written content, Axel believes that you should stick to your convictions and ask yourself if you are running or when you are running : WHY are you running ? Again, take a step back to see if there is a need and always confront your beliefs with where you are, what you are doing, why and how you are doing it.
While discovering his work, I first got into Political Statement that was alongside the presentation of their Fashion Art Brand Korine at Le Coeur Paris Gallery in 2017. With Political statement, Axel shows that people are shocked by things that shouldn’t be so shocking after all.
“This video is an artistic project that contains images that may be disturbing to some viewers. This video is not made for a young public. Those images are all taken from YouTube. You can easily find it by a simple search without age restrictions. It is a project built to create a reflexion about the impact of images and the brutality of reality. Entertainment? News channels? Can everything be showed to viewers? Brutality is now banality. I created a reflexion between reality and fiction. I question if exposing images of our world, and our reality is exposing ourselves” Axel J. Sannino
Then he released Boyfriends, his first short film that plays with perceptions of what relations between people are and / or should be, that questions happiness and role playing between people in life and relationships. It was also a first step to what he means when he speaks about quality in terms of content, as well as taking the risk of being you with people.
“I am on a mission to evangelize about quality content and respect each project for what it is. It is not because you are doing a short film that it should be only seen as a line on your CV and therefore be scamped. It is a whole project to itself and you have to push as hard as you can like for any project you do to bring the best out of it” Axel J. Sannino
Having a real and truthful opinion will not make you popular
When I decided that I wanted to interview Axel to share his vision of life, it was because Axel and I share something deep : we try as hard as we can to keep our voice as radical as we can even if of course, we are still in the process of learning on how to do that.
As he just finished his crowdfunding campaign for his short film Jerk Off that will be released at the end of march 2019, I wanted to understand and share how he embodies his messages through his crusade for quality. The starting point of the movie was a voice-over expressing Axel’s angriness towards standards in terms of self respect, quality, authenticity between people. For him, Jerk Off main statement is “having a real and truthful opinion doesn’t make you popular”.
Jerk Off is an experimental short film about the LGBTQ fashion world. Born of a deep desire to denounce the fashion world in Paris, Axel J. Sannino portrays the lines of a queer youth who free themselves from social barriers, prejudices and clichés. It is in the intimacy of a triangular love story that we discover the themes of the project: pure consumption. Written as a critique of the over-consumption of digital content that has been devoid of sensitivity, this short film dissects fashion with a mirror of cinematographic references bringing a real aesthetic and a smart content. Lou Crémont, Production Manager
Among his inspirations when doing this short film, Axel speaks about transferring the clashes that can be seen in RAP music but in the film industry by “hacking the audience with sweet candies”. Jerk Off is a more digest way of getting his message trough, as a simple voice-over doesn’t mark people’s brain. It is also a look of an outsider on the Parisian fashion scene with all the fake appearances that it sometimes encounters. Speaking about that, The American Meme of course came into our minds during our conversation.
The American Meme – Netflix
He also told me that what is going to come may not make him popular, but he doesn’t care as bringing out your best work, and form of art on a truthful and radical way does not always make you popular. Clearly, little to nobody like that, because everybody tries to be liked or loved, famous and popular.
For Axel, making choices and being bias is a lifestyle, not a trend
We are living an era where people want others to be radical and make choices as it is scary to be bias. Why ? Because it is always about what others think of you. But for those who take the risk to speak their truth and have a voice, there is space and long term growth as it is a matter of purpose. WHY ? Because Axel or I as a little group of people around the world believe in the infinite game.
We shared a lot about the current state of the world. Trends come and go but your convictions and truth worthiness lies in long term and long lasting relationships with yourself and others. If having an opinion is part of our era, we also talked about this FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) that many people have and that can sometimes even push your friends and family to doubt your projects if you are just less present on social media and communicate less. While in your case, you just decide not to pursue with a project because you don’t feel like it anymore.
It is all about how people perceive trust but that is sometimes not well balanced in todays’ world as there is an overflow of too much communication. There is too much noise and adding more noise to it won’t make it interesting. Everybody wants to be heard. The “Yellow Vest movement” for instance is a strong proof of that.
What is important according to him is to make the difference between noise and sound. Sound is not where everybody is. It lies in added value that you bring to the people and masterpieces are a great illustration of that.
Making choices and being radical when part of your lifestyle often goes with sacrifices, that you are willing to undertake to live the life you want but making sacrifices it’s often frowned upon, especially if you like quality and rare things.
An Ode to optimism
When I asked to Axel what he wanted to share with people to end the interview as an ending word, he told me that there is no ending word. Never. And as for Jerk Off, even if it’s kind of a moquerie of the whole fashion system, the LGBTQ+ world or the usage and perceptions around marketing, the film delivers a very optimistic message.
Why ? Because he uses his talent and art form to try to provoke discussions that can lead to solutions to our world problems.
For him, “honesty in the way you look at things is important and necessary in the process. Even if there is a lot of shit in life and that the world is full of a lot of problems, it is our responsibility and duty to make a masterpiece out of that shit!”