Monday, October 15The Voice of London

Uncontaminated 2016 in Oslo: Female image-makers of our generation

Oslo’s 2016 Uncontaminated fashion and art festival focuses on female photographers. Voice Of London took a look round. 

 Reporter: Alma Fabiani |  Subeditor: Grace Brown

Art and therefore fashion, because it should be considered art as well, is often at its most exciting when it is exhibited against a discriminatory world; when it’s pushing boundaries through different angles and approaches.

Photograph by Petra Collins
Photograph by Petra Collins

That’s what Uncontaminated Festival is about, celebrating the emerging and established talents. This Oslo based fashion art festival was created only two years ago by Norwegian makeup artist Hilde Pettersen Reljin and Oslo native Rita Larsen in collaboration with the international creative hub NOIONE. The organizers and curators are the reason why Uncontaminated showed innovative collaborations and succeeded in mixing art, photography and fashion with polemical topics through visual expressions.

This year, the festival unfolded from the 12th October to the 14th October in two of Oslo’s famous cultural neighbourhoods: Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen. People were given access to exhibitions, concerts, pop-up events about celebrating fashion through art, and interesting talks about the fashion industry and the creative process.

Artists such as famous fashion photographer and curator Petra Collins, photographers Amanda Charchian and Lea Colombo and collage genius Charlie Engman attended the event.


Photograph by Petra Collins


Petra Collins is half Canadian half Hungarian and lives in New York. Talking about what her photos are about with Dazed & Confused she declared: “Women’s emotions are constantly labelled. Any slight deviation from so-called pleasantness, and we are labelled as hysterical.”

Her work is about being an inspiration for women and being able to empower femininity. However, she knew that she wouldn’t be able to do this alone, which is why she created a platform where young female artists could collaborate. That’s when The Ardorous female art collective was created in 2011. Petra Collins is now a frequent photographer for i-D Magazine, Dazed & Confused, Love Magazine, Wonderland Magazine and Vogue. She also worked with famous brands such as Calvin Klein and Gucci. She published a photography book titled Babe in 2015, as well as Selfie in 2013, that took a look at teenagers’ selfie culture. Babe was awarded Best Photography Book of 2015 by The New York Times.

The first artist picked for Oslo’s Uncontaminated Festival was Amanda Charchian, famous for her work as a photographer but also for her drawings and sculptures. Charchian has worked for fashion brands, both well-known and more independent. Her photographs have been described as a feminine work that exudes “sensuality which is simultaneously epic and intimate.” When asked about the festival’s spirit and how it went Charchian declared: “It was a very creative environment. I was in London with my boyfriend just before, so I went from this creative relationship, as someone once said, to this great city where I was in the middle of a creative community.”

About the festival, she added, “I was involved pretty early on this year. I was a good example for Uncontaminated because it was about mixing fashion and art and I combine being a photographer with different artists.”


Photograph by Amanda Charchian
Photograph by Amanda Charchian

Charchian’s work is also touching feminism as she shows in her new book called Pheromone Hotbox. She began working on it in 2012 and features 28 female artists from around the world and from various disciplines such as filmmakers, painters, performers, poets and sculptors. Talking about female artists working together, she describes them as “magic while they’re in their full realisation of themselves.” Charchian then went on linking this with her work in the fashion industry: “Now I bring that into the fashion work a lot. When I’m photographing famous models I feel like I can connect with them as my friend first so that then the pictures become about us and not about the client.”

She gained an education from the making of this book and working with those 28 female artists. Could we say that femininity is good for the fashion industry then? Amanda is not sure about it: “I don’t know, I think that I just enjoy connecting with that feminine spirit because it’s very intuitive and emotionally fluid. It is not about sex. I think the complexity behind it makes it more secretive.”


Collage and Photograph by Charlie Engman
Collage and Photograph by Charlie Engman

Other artists who work in fashion and art were also at the festival, trying to change the way this industry works. Charlie Engman with his collages made of pictures was still trying to solve formal problems by using light, models and post-production. Bjarne Melgaard was also attending Uncontaminated, an artist well known for his provocative reputation. However, he insisted that his intention was not to be known as a provoking artist. The major focus was on female artists, especially female photographers who, slowly but surely, are showing a new path in the fashion industry, one where women are empowered and work in a collective group.


Only Good Things

We interviewed three people who attended the festival in Oslo. Here’s the opinion on what they saw:

Camilla, 33-year-old

“It was my first time at Uncontaminated and I thought it was amazing. There was a non-conformity that I really enjoyed. The talks were great, I liked the one about ‘reinventing the magazine’. I was surprised to see a lot of women exhibiting there as well.”

Nico, 29-year-old

“I came to their event because I knew Bjarne Melgaard was going to be there, and I wasn’t disappointed. I met him and we talked for a bit, I was thrilled. Everyone was so nice and open-minded. Uncontaminated is very eclectic as well.”

Marita, 23-year-old

“I love photography and I loved the idea of collectives of artists as well. I look up to photographers like Petra Collins and Amanda Charchian because they’re all about female empowerment. Like the festival’s website says, it was created from this hunger for individual freedom.”

Official Uncontaminated Oslo Website