Gia Coppola’s photography is an antidote to online culture
Semi Permanent and Highsnobiety are launching a two-day experiential hotel buyout bringing together artists from around the world to present a vision for the future. Discover the exhibitions here.
A selection of still life photographs by Gia Coppola – exhibited as part of A Semi Permanent Hotel, presented by Highsnobiety, our two-day experiential takeover – is the continuation of a career of exploring the “extraordinary ordinary “.
An image of a pack of cigarettes perched on a nightstand and a lone chair on an empty stage, for example, echoes the mundane beauty we expect from his work. It’s a theme that reappears through movie titles such as Palo Alto, romantic campaigns for Rodarte and Gucci, and Dev Hynes’ dream music video “You’re Not Good Enough”.
In his latest collection of photographic works, Coppola selected images from his archive that are largely devoid of characters, giving the collection a haunting and timeless quality. “If I were to buy a photograph,” she told me, “I would rather not have a photo of a stranger than a little kind of still life… I always think it’s more attractive on a wall.”
The informal and intimate feel of the series is, in many ways, an antidote to the “extremely online” visual style of To integrate, his highly anticipated comedy-drama starring Maya Hawke and Andrew Garfield. Relying on Snapchat filters and Facebook reactions to satirize the YouTube frenzy, To integrate is unambiguously rooted in the present. His photographs, on the other hand, are not linked to a given period.
As a descendant of Coppola, you might assume that Gia would intuitively follow in the footsteps of her grandfather, Frances Ford, or her aunt, Sofia. Instead, or perhaps because of her cinematic lineage, she chose photography first.
“My whole journey with photography was that I was never really good at school,” she admitted, “I couldn’t draw or paint and I just felt like, ‘Well, what can I do?’ I felt comfortable in a photography space, especially the dark room – that kind of experience was really heartwarming, in a way.
She would follow in the footsteps of William Eggleston and Stephen Shore (her mentor at Bard) as a documentary filmmaker on American life – to its fullest everyday extent.
As with the aforementioned photographers, Coppola turned his camera towards the mundane. The “little diaristic images of what has happened over the years,” as she describes them, reveal intimate moments in time.
“Like the cigarette on the bedside table… it evokes all these different memories, even if it’s very simple,” she tells me. “It was during my friend’s wedding and I was going through a really strange phase. I used to smoke; I actually don’t really smoke at all, so it reminds me of that interesting time in my life.
There is a spontaneous and almost accidental aspect to the framing and focusing of these thumbnails that wouldn’t necessarily work well on Instagram. Seen on a white wall, however, the domestic and brooding snaps are transporting – both nostalgic and instantly evocative of the teenager’s gaze.
When I ask her why she seemed drawn, time and time again, to the aesthetic of adolescence, she notes that with Palo Alto more precisely, it was about making choices according to the tone and content of the story. In the case of his first film, he focused on a group of disgruntled high school students.
“My job is always a bit of a teenager,” she adds, “but I could also be delayed as a teenager for the rest of my life.”
Interestingly, Coppola got a career in film via YouTube. “I was just doing a normal job after college, then I started playing with a friend of mine who went to film school and we were making little videos with clothes on. We were going to the opening ceremony and we were like, ‘If you give us a dress and a thousand dollars, we’ll do a video for you. That was the starting point for this kind of narrative fashion fusion. And then through that, it just progressed. From there, she shot short films for brands such as Zac Posen, Gucci, Rodarte and Wren.
In the seven years it took for Coppola to get the funding To integrate, the internet landscape has changed dramatically, as Gez Z has abandoned monolithic platforms for more experimental and egalitarian social networks.
Although his satire on Internet fame has been hailed as a “masterpiece of the TikTok era,” it has less to do with the video-sharing site of the day and more with how we understand ourselves and ourselves. we understand through the internet.
“It’s really about the kind of love story in this internet world and how it affects your ego.” Coppola takes care not to denounce the Internet in general. “I don’t think our culture has a definite opinion,” she explains, “not yet”.
Nonetheless, her second film paints a grim and immediately recognizable portrait of Internet life, which reaches its horrific climax on the YouTube special “No One Special”. “I reflected what I was feeling, what I was going through and what I was seeing,” she says, “I felt a little alien to what the masses love.”
For Coppola, it’s not the Internet, but the mechanisms that keep us connected that are the most disturbing. “This kind of ‘comparison and desperation’ is designed to keep you attached,” she notes. “It’s really unavoidable, in a way.”
To integrate is now available in the United States. There is currently no release date in Australia.