Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?
I am Idan Wizen, French-Israeli fine art photographer, and I am based in Paris. I've been making photography for more than 10 years, dedicating myself mainly to fine art photography, but also fashion and advertising.
In 2009 I founded my main art project Un Anonyme Nu Dans Le Salon (French for Who’s that nude in the living room?), which is still ongoing and aims to constitute the largest photographic series representing humanity as it is, in its most natural state, its nudity and diversity. To date, the project has had 2000 participants that volunteered themselves as my subjects.
What does your job involve? Give us the typical outline of a day?
It is never the same! I can spend an entire day taking photographs for Un Anonyme Nu Dans Le Salon or one of my other art projects!
But I also spend a lot of time interacting with art collectors or regular people who want to buy some of my art pieces. They come to my studio, where I show them some of my artworks and talk them through my ideas so they can make an informed purchase.
Before Covid existed, I would also prepare exhibitions and work on the scenography. That’s something I miss a lot.
I also waste a lot of time dealing with administrative and accounting tasks! If you thought being an artist allows you to escape all this, you are mistaken, especially if you are based in France! I wish I had more than 24 hours in a day. I still have a lot of ideas for photographs that I want to take but not enough time!
What are the highlights of your artistic career to date?
I think my artistic career really started when I was chosen by the European Festival of Nude Photography in Arles to be part of the festival.
This gave me the chance to be exhibited in galleries in New York and Miami, which was a big step at the time! Over a decade, I had the opportunity to exhibit in several galleries and public spaces. The memories from these expositions are dear to me and I hope that they will resume soon.
I also have to mention the first international prize that I won for one of my photographs! Being loved by fans of your artwork is always a pleasure, but when your work is recognized by one of your peers it is totally different!
What was your path into this job?
I studied at University of Arts in London, where I got my Masters degree. This was where I learned composition, framing, but above all creativity, and how to take, organize and transmit ideas. I believe that this is important when you want to make art, though the technical part of photography I learned mainly by myself.
But what is essential is the will to communicate a message to others. I always wanted to express my convictions, my ideals, interact with people, and push them to think. I prefer art which provides insight into the unconscious, and touches people subtly, in a dreamlike and aesthetic way, and which pushes them to reflect and understand a point of view that may be separate from their own.
Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your artistic career? How did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge is working on believing in myself and that my photographs deserve to be seen and exhibited. I’m not 100% sure I've overcome it yet!
Have you noticed any changes since you started working in the industry? If so, what?
Yes, of course! One of the most flagrant changes is the relationship to nude fine art from different sectors of the market.
It’s always been hard and complicated to show my work on social media, first on Facebook, then also on Instagram. Even if I try to follow the always changing conditions on social media, I am still quite often censored, and risk having my accounts deleted. This problem also affects Google and their services. They like to consider my work as part of the “adult industries”.
I also see a lot of art marketplaces or festivals that don't want to bother with fine art nudes because they are also at risk of being censored by major platforms.
How do you keep inspiration fresh for your decade-long project Un Anonyme Nu Dans Le Salon?
Each person is different and each one inspires me in a different way. Before the shooting, I spend some time talking with each person. They tell me their story, their background and each one gives me a new way of looking at humanity.
I also have worked on different collections. Over the years I wanted to continue the project but to make it evolve graphically, aesthetically, and mostly to continually add meaning to each collection.
Each collection has a different graphic style, includes different images, but contains the same ideas and concept: an individual where only one photograph is chosen, with no casting or retouching. Each universe that I can create within different collections allows me to express myself as an artist and reflect on today's society. For example, Sanitized refers to Covid, Pandemonium is about the role of nudity across the centuries, and Backstage alludes to the 50’s.
Can you describe the collaborative process between you as the artist and your photographic subjects?
In the context of my artistic project Un Anonyme Nu Dans Le Salon, before the volunteer comes to pose, I don’t know anything about them. When I open the door of the studio, that’s when I discover the person. Their name, age, profession, history and the reasons which have pushed them to get involved with my project. We spend a long time talking together. This allows me to understand more about the person in front of me, and then to make the session correspond to the person, and make it unique.
Do you have any advice for young people interested in pursuing their own artistic career?
Wake up early and go to sleep late! You can’t achieve something without hard work. Spend a lot of time working on your art. But also spend a lot of time showing and explaining your work to others!
Criticize yourself! That will help you to make better pieces of art and push your limits. You can always do better, work hard to do your best.
Keep trying! Even if everything seems to not be going your way, remember why you are doing this.
We also reviewed Un Anonyme Nu Dans Le Salon, and you can read that here.