Venus Raven’s visuals pull you in a dark world where capturing & exposing the essence of authentic emotion is the most priceless reward. “By letting someone take your photograph, you allow this person to penetrate and take hold of your soul.” she notes and this, is undoubtedly a most interesting and stimulating point of view. Read as she unravels her passions, fears, inspirations and thoughts:

Welcome to EyeCandies Venus! What intrigued your passion for photography and how did your visual journey begin?

At the very beginning, back in the womb -or even before- there was a girl obsessed with images, with seeing life unravel in front of a seeing hole. First film, birth. Second film, still unfinished, a patchwork of images she would capture in her mind, with her tiny fingers forming a peeping hole opening to a world of bizarre creatures calling themselves adults.

I desperately wanted to be a filmmaker, although it was only in retrospect that I realized that. Many years later, I started teaching myself and experimenting with video art and short films. The outcome was horrendous and time-consuming. So I naturally kept on working. But after a while my hurt perfectionism bred paranoia and I decided that the unending monitor-bound editing of films would be the end of me -so I abandoned them. Foolishly, as it was soon proven, for I ended up finding another end of me, this time through the equally unending and again monitor-bound editing of photographs. So, in turn, I may abandon digital photography and switch to analog. Or maybe go back to traditional painting and sculpture. No digital editing this time, just the unending paranoia of a hands-on pleasure. The only constant in this journey is theatre, my eternally beloved Mistress that I’ve from time to time betrayed, forgotten or abandoned only to return full of rekindled desire. The girl is finally at home. Third film: transmutation.

Self-portraits are a big part of your photographic portfolio. What do you strive to express through self-exposure?

Why expose myself? Firstly, in order to sodomize my fears, insecurities, and complexes. On a more mundane level, simply because I am my only constant instrument, available 24/7. I want to exploit myself till the marrow, through a sadomasochistic procedure that, by allowing and calling for openness and potential hurt, leads to the sort-lived catharsis of an addict.

A reassuring fact is that when we are dealing with the human fundamentals, most people are revealed to be strikingly similar, so an honest way to study the world is through the only being you can ever know best (if at all), yourself.

I still haven’t found many people who are willing to go beyond just posing and do the ‘soul stripping’, as I call it, a process that necessitates the abandonment of being self-conscious. I have a very perverse vision and if I even get there by using other people, I will finally come the closest one can get to the mystic essence of photography, which is to create a realm for the captivated soul, independent of the burden of time but no more free. By letting someone take your photograph, you allow this person to penetrate and take hold of your soul. And this is a serious commitment, to say the least; one that very few people can make with full awareness.
From what I understand poetry plays a vital role in your creative process as most of your photos are accompanied by a poem. Talk to us about the connection.

Being a storyteller at heart, this is the root of the connection between these two media. Each photograph is a film in a frame and I have always felt the urge to write its script.
Your visuals are dark, intense, with a mystic essence. As a matter of fact, one of your last projects “That Hard Fucker” takes place in a cemetery. Can you give us some details of the photo shoot and an introduction to the concept?

This was a project between myself and two great fellow artists, painter Skot Reynolds and multi-disciplinary artist Victoria Gugenheim. The concept was to capture Death as she is taking a stroll around her favorite… haunt. The choice of Death’s gender was random, given the fact that it is always an accepted paradox to personify states of being (and/or not being). There may be a sequel to this shooting, most probably in a juxtapositional setting. 

What was the most provocative photo you’ve captured? And how did it make you feel?

The majority of my work that breathes closer to my heart and soul has never been publicly exhibited –and may never be- due to its very personal and explicit nature. It is my private visual journal, comprised mostly of hardcore material, crude, visceral and uncensored. However, keep in mind that what is provocative for one person may be naïve, boring or prude for another. Therefore I cannot answer this question except by talking about the work that is given birth and is meant to provoke my own pre(+mis)conceptions, the work that stems from my need to cleanse myself from the socially imposed, rarely -if ever- honest beliefs, mind frames and realities. When I’ve gone through this process, which in essence and form is closely akin to a religious ceremony, I experience a wide array of effects, ranging from the complex -like a premature birth of nostalgia for a liberated disgust- to something simple and primal -like an orgasm.
Favorite artists/photographers?

I was always disturbed by the fact that we consciously or subconsciously steal from all the contemporary artists and all those that came before us to the extent that it is almost impossible to find the dividing line between great re-execution of (stolen) ideas and pure pioneering vision.

Being the offspring of this predominantly visual era, I am completely engulfed in the work of this exponentially increasing multitude of artists -so much that I sometimes fail to differentiate between them. But here are a few names of some of those artists whose work in photography (lets keep this endless list only to this medium) I have studied and admire immensely:

Alex and Felix, Daikichi Amano, Dieter Appelt, Nobuyoshi Araki, Eve Arnold, Rainer Arnulf, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Erwin Blumenfeld, Guy Bourdin, Bill Brandt, Günter Brus, Holly Bynoe, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bruno Dayan, Robert Doisneau, František Drtikol, Marc Dubord, Harold E. Edgerton, Andreas Feininger, Frédéric Fontenoy, Toni Frissell, Hideki Fujii, Misha Gordin, Emmet Gowin, Robert Gregory GriffethI, Philippe Halsman, Aaron Hawks, Robert Heinecken, Teun Hocks, Marta Hoepffner, Eikoh Hosoe, Irina Ionesco, André Kertész, Miru Kim, Jürgen Klauke, Nick Knight, Les Krims, David LaChapelle, Annie Leibovitz, Ouka Lele, Serge Lutens, Michael Macku, Sally Mann, Angus McBean, Steve McCurry, Dave McKean, Vivian Maier, Man Ray, Robert Mapplethorpe, Gjon Mili, Lee Miller, Tina Modotti, László Moholy-Nagy, Sarah Moon, Yasumasa Morimura, Helmut Newton, Lennart Nilsson, Mika Ninagawa, Hiroshi Nonami, Erwin Olaf, Trent Parke, Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, Irving Penn, Anders Petersen, Pierre et Gilles, Paolo Roversi, Marla Rutherford, Lucas Samaras, Jan Saudek, Sayaka, Cindy Sherman, Kishin Shinoyama, Floria Sigismondi, Mark Sink, Sandy Skoglund, Frederick Sommer, Vee Speers, Edward Steichen, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Karin Székessy, Marcel van der Vlugt, Bill Viola, Gerhard Vormwald, Jeff Wall, Albert Watson, Christine Webster, Edward Weston, Joel-Peter Witkin, David Wojnarowicz, Francesca Woodman, Kimiko Yoshida, Austin Young, Vladimír Židlický, and many other masters that I fail to trace at the moment. 

If you were trapped in a deserted house for 48hrs and you had to choose 2 people to accompany you, who would you choose and why?

There is an overt sexual pun in this question. But, to keep it decent, I’ll say I’d choose a psychic and a comedian. I would thus pretend to be trapped with them whilst I’d be taking notes for a black comedy play; in the end we’d all die of boredom –in less, much less than 48 hours- regretting we didn’t practically drive home the pun.
Use 10 words to portray yourself and one link that expresses your current mood
  1. Aspiring Alchemist
  2. Egoistical
  3. Ever-Divided
  4. Obsessive-Compulsive
  5. Passion-bound
  6. Sadomasochistic
  7. Secretive
  8. Sentimental
  9. Temperamental
  10. Unfulfilled and unsatisfied

And the link:

What can we find you doing when not taking photos? Share some of your hobbies/other activities

Working in theatre, working on the revival of my magazine, working on my other projects, writing, reading, filming, painting, discovering and meeting with talented people, rehearsing madness, daydreaming, drinking coffee, drinking wine, singing, loving my loved ones, falling in and out of love, and various other debaucheries, in no particular order, alternated and dictated sometimes by mood, sometimes by instinct, often by necessity, but mostly by a whim.

Are there any future projects we should look forward to? Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Being terrified of the doubtful consistency of time, I unavoidably loathe making plans –though not so much that they end up loathing me in turn. So, hopefully, in the next few months, among other things I’ll be directing a play and one or two short films, act in another short film and will do a number of collaborations in photography and performance art. Hopefully again, I’ll bring Project Magazine in London and organize my ever-postponed solo exhibition, which will be a proper orgy of mixed media on which I’ve been working on since what could be called forever. And, yes, hopefully, I’ll still be alive and relatively sane.

In the meantime, I will be open for those mythical creatures called Muses, waiting (not always patiently) to be put under their spell and thrown to new addictions. If these Muses happen to come in human form, so much the better, I long for this.

It was a pleasure Venus! Thank you for your time and participation!

Thank you.

LINKS: […]

- www.venusraven.net (coming soon) 
- www.myspace.com/venusraven
- www.ravenus9.deviantart.com