In 2009, I read an expose about the gold trade in
I decided to take elements from the painting and transform them. Satyrs became child soldiers; I made Venus's dress ripped, alluding to rape, and there's a mine visible through a hole in the backdrop. I was thinking a lot about the gold mines in
I wanted Venus to represent
The photograph, called The Rape of
A strange thing happened when the shot was on display in
The shoot was like a circus: there were kids crying and goats and chickens running around. I enjoy the theatricality of putting shots together, with set-builders, make-up artists and models all working in unison. It's noisy, but I can focus in chaos. It took about 10 days to build the set but the process started long before that, with research, sketches and casting.
People who see my work assume it's all done in post-production, but you can't do this on Photoshop. When you see this picture large, you can see every pore on Naomi's skin. The mine was a model and photographed separately, so it could be in focus at the same time as the foreground - but it was all there.
I stopped working for magazines in 2006 because I felt I had said all I had to say in that world. It didn't occur to me that I could make photographs like this one for galleries. To be honest, I didn't think the art world would have me.
High point: "When Jablonka Galerie filled their entire booth at Frieze with my photographs."
Low point: "After making the films
Top tip: "Turn off your cellphone, iPad and computer."
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