The artist and zine maker talks erotomania and our unhealthy obsession with love.
"You'll be the prince and I'll be the princess. It's a love story, baby, just say yes." Sprawled across the page in scribbled writing, Taylor Swift's lyrics read like the diary entry of a lovesick teen. In fact, the whole of Indigo Lewin's new zine does. Exploring the notion of teen obsession and our unhealthy relationship with love, He Loves Me Not, is the latest offering from the artist and zine maker.
From upside down Spiderman kisses in the rain to great romantic ballads, the image of unrealistic love has never been so heightened. Even our schoolgirl crushes have turned into manic obsessions, what with the rise of superstar fandom on social media. As the reality of love becomes further removed from pop culture's depiction of it, at this rate, we're all headed for disillusion and disappointment, something which Indigo draws attention to with her collaged song lyrics and cut out love scenes from iconic movies.
Inspired by the teen zines of her youth, Indigo's intimate portraits of anonymous boys point to the ease with which even a stranger can become the object of our affection. Here we catch up with the artist to talk sex, love, and bad romance.
What's the story behind your new zine?
It's basically a twisted love letter -- admiration gone a step too far. I created a kind of scrapbook, contrasting images of boys and love song lyrics amongst other things - the end result has come out looking pretty creepy. I was really inspired by super fandom on Instagram accounts, thousands of love declarations on Justin Bieber's page... Social media has seemed to create a whole new type of romance, obsession is the new crush.
What do you want your readers to take away from it?
The zine is mostly satirical but emphasises the mania around Taylor Swift inspired fantasy romance. If anything you can take home 48 pages of hot boys.
How has popular culture influenced our view of love?
I think that our expectations our contaminated. I think that there is no shame in fantasy, obsession to a point can be romantic, however, I think current pop culture insinuates an undertone that there is something better - studying the lyrics of love songs today and growing up surrounded by dramatic and perfect on screen romance leads to these unattainable #goals. I think perhaps as a society we have trouble with reality.
You talk about sex being ugly and love mundane, could you elaborate on this?
It's not that sex is ugly or love is mundane, both are undeniably two of the most beautiful things, especially when combined, I think it's more comparative to what we're told it 'could' or 'should' be.
What does love mean to you?
I'm not sure, still a bit confused.
Why is it dangerous to feed young girls these unrealistic ideals about love?
I just think it's this thing of being perpetually let down - first experiences are usually pretty messy. I think young girls put certain stars on such a pedestal and want what they have; however it's totally unrealistic. I just don't think there should be a shame factor in not being swept off your feet, that's all. Love should be perfect in all forms.
Some of the greatest songs of our time have been born out of obsession, what do you think the cultural impact would be if we were to ban these idealised notions of love?
It would be terrible, healthy obsession is a key part of romance, love and sex. I think there is a line to be drawn. The zine is more of an observation than a passionate personal message.
What's the significance of your references to delusional love?
The zine is sort of meant to be progressive, the final pages are almost a confession. Like a "you were thinking it but I said it", it's the fantasy crossing the line and becoming symptomatic of mania, erotomania to be specific.
What's the biggest misconception about love in the modern age?
I don't know - each to their own. I think perhaps the idea of soulmates, in my opinion - I think that they are a bit of a monkey on your back.....waiting to meet the 'one', I think it makes us undermine the luxury of love, as 'mundane' as it may be at times.
What is it about zines as a medium that appeals to you?
I find the idea of a book a lot of pressure! Zines are fun and light hearted, I think you can create fluency with your images, create a story, evoke an idea without taking yourself too seriously.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I'm working on a project for a show that Antonia Marsh is curating calling Pillow Talk, which opens in Feb.