Interview for The Roundhouse about the Transfiguration exhibition


Last year, during my Transfiguration exhibition at The Roundhouse (London), I was interviewed for their blog. I’m sharing it much later, just because I forgot then, but I still find this interview interesting now:

What inspired you to take up a career in photography?
I always knew I wanted to do something creative, but I wasn’t sure what or how. When I was 23, I started working in an office importing photography equipment, which wasn’t fulfilling.

Three and a half years later, I quit, bought a camera and started taking photographs. I photographed weddings and events with a friend, for the money. At the same time, my brother started training in the circus, so I started photographing him and his friends.

A year later when I moved to London, it inspired me to start shooting circus artists, dancers and performers, along with interesting characters, for example, those in London’s alternative and fetish clubs.

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Listen to my interview about Crowdfunding at Resonance 104.4 FM, ‘Art Survival Strategies in London’ (13th February 2016)

Last Saturday (13th February) I was a part of the ‘The News Agents’ show at Resonance 104.4 FM in London.
The show’s title was ‘Art Survival Strategies in London’. It was hosted by artist, friend and neighbour Rebecca Feiner.

For those of you who missed the live broadcast you can now listen to it on Resonance’s Mixcloud:

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Interview for C-Head’s Magazine

C-Head’s Magazine just published a new interview with me. The interview has already created quite a discussion on their fb page. You can read it below or see the original post with images from Natural Beauty on their website.

“Life’s purpose is to be happy.” it says on the tumblr blog of London based photographer, filmmaker and artist Ben Hopper. Exactly. So we had an interesting deep chat with him about his wonderful on-going project “Natural Beauty”, about society´s standards for beauty and about realizing more and more that we are part of nature.

Your main purpose of doing art is…
To entertain myself, to entertain others. To be happy, to make others happy.

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Akt Now: Interview for have just published a new interview on their website as a part of their  ‘Akt Now!’ features.
It’s all in German so I’m posting an English version below in case anyone’s interested, gut?:

What excites you about the subject of the nude?
I find it attractive. It turns me on. Actually, would be more precise to say that when it is women, I find it attractive, mostly. With men, I find it fascinating.
I am looking for physical uniqueness. Performance muscles (contemporary circus, dance) are a big interest to me. Years ago when I just started photographing circus, I was talking to my brother who’s a circus performer (acrobat & juggler) himself about how some aerial circus girls have such big shoulders you can mistake them for a man if you look at their backs. My brother explained: “The muscles are not for show-off, these girls want to be able to do a certain move or trick with their body. They need these muscles to be there for it, that’s all”. Through the years I have learned to love what seemed a bit weird to me in the beginning.

How far would you go? Are there any taboos?
I don’t think I would make a good photojournalist. I think I can’t photograph people’s suffering, it feels too private. I can’t do it. At least not directly, perhaps in a paraphrase. But to photograph someone in possibly one of their weakest moments gives me the shivers and almost makes me sick.
I don’t like to show sex too. Sometimes there’s so much going on, you can just show a crop of something – it’s much more effective. It also leaves room for others to interpret.
I’m not really sure how far I would go. It keeps changing. Every year I dig deeper and deeper, it seems like I keep pushing myself but at the same time I like to close down and show less.
Perhaps you could say that the goal sanctifies the means – so all I really need to do if find subjects I can relate to and believe in. As the years go by, I am more and more sick of consumerism and most fashion trends. A lot of cultural habbits seems silly to me as well. I guess if I need to photograph a family naked with all their members; mother, father and children – to protest against Apple’s censorship of nudity on their App Store, I will.

When is a nude picture considered a piece of art?
I think it’s not just about nude. If a picture is good enough to be timeless, it doesn’t matter if it’s nude or not.
This could be a very philosophical discussion about art, nudity and personal taste. Perhaps we can do a whole interview just about that.

Who or what inspires you? Are there any photographers or artists that inspires your work?
Everything inspires me. In specific it will be kindness, intellect, technology, powerful women; both sexually and mentally, doers, thinkers, nature, animals and good food. People who are nice to me inspire me. There’s also money that motivates me more than inspiring. It’s weird – but when I don’t have money I don’t feel like doing anything. When I have money – I am super productive.
The artists I like more nowadays are the ones who do what I do – mixing beauty and vulgar. Creating a contrast, a contradiction.
Maybe I do what they do, I’m defiantly not the first in this category.
Anyway, from the top of my head; Manuel Vason, Sara Sitkin, Lloyd Newson and lately I discovered Daniel Arsham. I like his aesthetics.
It’s mostly people who do stuff that’ll make me go “ooh why didn’t I think of that!”

Was there any mortifying moment while you were photographing?
There was one time when I photographed a female model in a shower and we wrapped her head and face with bondage rope. The water made the rope shrink and at some point she couldn’t breathe. There was a tiny moment of panic because we had to untie all the rope, FAST. It was ok at the end. I know, it’s not that bad. This is the most mortifying moment or close to it. Although some of the pictures I take may look dangerous, we take as much precaution before.
I wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt while I’m taking a photo. Unless they’re into it.

How important is staging and coincidence for your pictures?
The staging is just a way to make it my own. I create a situation and let reality happen, or at least I try.
It’s like jazz, you know you have 8 bars to improvise. Within these 8 bars you can play whatever you want – but they are 8 bars in a song. Someone wrote that song. My bars are my frames. I tell the subject “This is your frame, you have from here to here, now play.”

What projects or dreams would you like to fulfil in your artistic practice?
I have a plan to spend 1 year in the USA in 2014 and work on some of my existing projects as well as new ones I haven’t started.
This will actually be a sabbatical so I could take things more easily.
“Naked Girls with Masks” and “Dancers on Rooftops” are obvious projects I can work on there. I also want to photograph some of my personal heroes. People like Paul Simon, Tom Waits, Noam Chomsky, Bob Dylan and so on. People who realistically I don’t have many years left to photograph, or meet. I really want to meet them.

Ben Hopper
Age: 31
Education: no
Next exhibition: Solo exhibition – 6 Sept – 1 Oct. Location: Stour Space, London ( / Title: TBC

Interview for UNDR RPBLC MGZN

Here’s an interview I’ve done for UNDR RPBLC Magazine for their April / May 2012 issue (#16).
For original interview & rest of magazine go here.

Big Ben!

How are you?
I’m tired after a long night on a little job, but I’m now snuggling in my gf’s bed, so all’s good.

Who are you really?
When I was about 17 I realized I wanted to be an artist. I’ve been doing some experiments with it lately. I’m a 29-year-old guy who grew up in Israel and moved to London when he was 26.

How’s London?
London’s great. Too cold TBH. I wish I could do more outdoor shoots, but anyone I photograph (without clothes) will freeze to death after 10 minutes here. Other than that, London is treating me well.

Care for a spot of tea?
I prefer coffee, but it starts getting to me… I think. After 15+ years my body starts to go EW after 2 coffees a day.

How long have you been shooting?
Officially/obsessively/using a DSLR since the summer of 2007.

Why did you select these photos for your feature?
They are selections from 2 exhibitions I now have in London; WickED Circus @ Jacksons Lane and Circle at Circa @ artsdepot.

What initially drew you to photography?
I was working in a trade company specializing in photography equipment back in Israel. I was managing the imports, and after almost 3.5 years I got fed up and quit. Having had access to cost prices I bought a Nikon DSLR and it came naturally, so I’ve kept on going with it.

Where has photography taken you?
All over the place. I’ve gotten to know some of the most amazing people and places – not sure I could have ever otherwise, but a camera (luckily) opens a lot of doors. I’m also getting more and more commissions that include traveling abroad so that’s great. I LOVE traveling.

What have you done with the fake ‘Ben Hoppers’ running around perpetrating?
Really I am Ofer Benin, which is like Robert Zimmerman for Bob Dylan.
Ben Hopper is the same thing – just an easier name for non-Israeli people to pronounce. Benin Ofer = Ben Hopper. It started as a joke years ago, but after using it on Myspace and FB it emerged into reality.
When I decided to go with Ben Hopper instead of Ofer I had to get a proper domain online, was taken and the best alternative I could come up with was I realized if I’m not a ‘real’ Ben Hopper, then fuck it, I might as well just go all the way. It also sums up my approach to life; do not take things too seriously. People think that it’s my business name, ‘the real ben hopper’ – it’s a website name 🙂

Where are you going?
Anywhere where I’ll be happy.

What would you do for a Klondike Bar?
I just googled that – so I guess not that much – although it kind of looks interesting!

Any sentiments towards Photoshop?
Yes, I’d be really careful though, you don’t want it to look like a ModelMayhem or an advertisement. Otherwise, I wish I had a full time retoucher. CAN’T STAND sitting in front of a monitor, it kills me.

What’s your camera of choice?
At the moment my main is a Canon 5D Mark II. I’d like to get a medium format, something with blasting 60MP would be nice.

How does working with video compare to photography for you?
I’m hoping to do more video in the near future. I prefer directing rather than operating the camera when it comes to video. I want to focus more on the creative, as opposed to the technological side.

What would you like to do more of (generally speaking)?
I’d like to travel more, go snowboarding and hit up festivals all over.
I’d basically love to do all shit I’m doing now on a larger international scale.

Of all your work, do you have a favorite?
I don’t really know. I was trying to find one going through my website yesterday, but I couldn’t.
It seems as if I can’t see anything with ‘iconic/classic/timeless’ characteristics in my portfolio. Not yet.
Maybe in 5-10 years…

When you get up, what do you do to calm yourself down?

When you get down, what do you do to bring yourself up?
Reminding myself that either; broken hearts are for assholes, or that our purpose in life is to be happy. Cheesy, I know, but it’s the goddamn truth!

Well, sometimes I do just cry all night, but don’t tell anyone I said that.

Why ask why?
Dude, I don’t know – but you just got a pretty heavy confession there so…

Where do you see your work heading?
Going back to what I want to do more of in general; on a larger international scale.

Who are your biggest influences?
All of my personal work is stuff I’m attracted to. This is influenced by a variety of things that are constantly changing on a daily basis.

Do you have any upcoming shows?
There are 3 exhibitions coming up at the moment. 2 solo and 1 group all in London. They are all about contemporary circus photography and a part of The Roundhouse CircusFest (a London theatre that dedicates all of April to contemporary circus shows):
13 March – 29 April/WickED Circus @ Jacksons Lane (solo),
28 March – 29 April/FEDEC’s Circle shows at Circa Festival 2011 @ artsdepot (solo),
28 March – 29 April/Social Circus @ Roundhouse (group).

More info on my Blog/FB/Twitter.

Have you had any professional training?
I was assisting 2-3 photographers for few months in Israel before I moved to London at the end of 2008. Nothing serious. No college. No Uni.

What do you want out of life?
My good friend Remco always says; “I don’t want to be right, I just want to be happy.”

Are you doing what you love?
I’m trying.

What’s next?
Sex. Then world domination.

Is there anything that I’ve missed?
Too many things, so little time. Let’s try another one in few months 😉

Any shout-outs?
See mum? I told you I shouldn’t have studied in school.