Sanitized : Not trying to please, trying not to displease

Idan Wizen tells us about the Sanitized collection, from the project Who's That Nude In The Living Room

The project Who’s That Nude In The Living Room, set up in 2009, gathers different collections. One of them caught our attention, created after the first French confinement, Sanitized plunges us into an out-of-the-ordinary setting and yet speaks to us all. Idan tells us a little more about this aseptic universe.


Would you prefer to read than watch a video?

Sanitized is a collection of the project Who’s That Nude In The Living Room, a collection that respects the same principles as the others of the project. Namely, models who have never posed before (neither in photos, nor naked), they are not casted (everyone can come from the age of 18), and who come for a photo session, where we will keep only one photograph of each individual. There is no retouching, these are authentic photographs of each individual, they are meant to be made into works of art up to very large formats which are 80 x 120 cm, and to be exhibited, in exhibitions, as well as in private homes. 


For this collection, you have set up a particular universe. Can you explain your creative process?

The idea of Sanitized was born after the lifting of the first lockdown in France, around mid-May. I felt obliged to talk about this crisis that affected humanity, as my project itself speaks a lot about humanity. It seemed essential to me as an artist to integrate it and to show the evolution of bodies, attitudes, beings in a new world, a world that now knows the Covid, and that knows a form of change of major evolution. 


Why is the entire set covered in plastic? 

The first reading, to put objects in plastic, was for us a very practical, very fast way to speak about Covid, to evoke it. The hydroalcoholic gel was not really visible in the photo, the mask for me was really disturbing on the project, it’s not something I wanted to do, and the plastic spoke well of this need for aseptization, linked to the health crisis. 

But it was also a deeper meaning, a secondary meaning that I wanted to express, which was related to the aseptization of our society. Not on the sanitary level, but on the cultural level, where more and more we are moving towards a society where everything must be smooth, not to exceed, to be politically correct, not to disturb. A society that we try to make that must displease no one, where everything must be as sanitized, as empty of life as plastic sheeting. 

In the photos of Sanitized there is only one element that is not under plastic, it is the model, because it is he or she who still represents the future, the destiny of humanity. It is the model that can be different, full of asperity, it is the model that can be in something less standardized, that is what creates, in my opinion, the beauty of humanity. 


We perceive two dominant colors: blue and orange, what are their meanings?

I think we’re going into a society where we’re trying to make it a society that nobody dislikes. My deepest feeling is that a society that doesn’t displease anyone, I’m not sure that it pleases many people. I wanted to use these two lights to create a duality. I believe that today we are at a social crossroads. We can head towards a society that is becoming more and more aseptic, and that is going towards an absence of life, of difference, of originality; or on the contrary, we can take things in hand and recreate difference, warmth, energy and the specificities of the human being. 


Are the emotions in this collection directly related to the sanitary crisis?

In the principle of the project Who’s That Nude In The Living Room, I wanted to create my universe, decor and my artistic expression through the lights, in each collection. But I want to keep the authenticity of each one. That’s why in the different photos of the collection, you will see people who are more down, people who are shouting, people who are happy, people who are smiling. Because everyone comes with his history, his liabilities, with his emotions, and this is what I try to transmit with each photo, no matter the universe, because even in the darkest universe we can be happy, in the most joyful we can be sad. 


When you created this universe, did you anticipate the public’s reaction?

It’s a very personal collection. I really wanted to do it, I knew I was expressing my universe and I was afraid that it would not please people. I was afraid that the reactions would be a little shocked, and that the shade of the colors, the plastic aspect a little moribund would displease. We are not in a collection that speaks of glamour, aesthetics, sensuality, but it was still important for me to make it. 


And how did they react?

I was very surprised, but the collection was very much appreciated, as much by the models who told me that they came to pose because this collection spoke to them in particular, as by many collectors who admired and acquired many works, because this collection will have a double uniqueness: the uniqueness of my work and my vision of things of course, but the uniqueness in relation to time. It is part of an era that has profoundly and permanently changed humanity.


What do you advise to people who discover the collection? 

I think that, as a general rule, we don’t spend enough time looking at the photos. We go through them very quickly, we are in an era where we are used to swipe very quickly. I would advise you to go to an exhibition, if there is one near you, or to look on the website, and take the time to look at each photo. Spend five, ten, fifteen seconds on each photo. Look at a glance, a smile, a curve, the details. Move on to the next one. Take the same time. Go back to the previous one. Go back five, ten, fifteen seconds. I believe that you never tire of a work of art, you learn to discover it, and to be moved by it.