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Nadia Lee Cohen - Real, No Limits

Words:

Edd Norval

Photos:

Nadia Lee Cohen
September 2, 2019

Since A$AP Rocky's well-documented arrest in Sweden, the rapper has already released a new track with a soon-to-be iconic video in which surrealistic policemen, who are actually pigs, end up as sausages. It's a break from the rappers usual style and it's all down to the director - fashion photographer Nadia Lee Cohen.

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Babushka Boi is the embodiment of Cohen's artistic output - when given free reign in an environment that absolutely suits her modus operandi. Rising through the ranks as a young fashion photographer, Cohen made her name in London, shooting in a bold hyper-real style.


Emphasising colours, features and shapes to an almost comic book level, her images have quickly become synonymous with her name - something bound to be 'Cohen-esque' in the near future. With a huge presence in the global fashion scene, A$AP Rocky has channeled her idiosyncratic style for his latest video.


Making a clear statement about his recent arrest, Rocky also opted for a playful approach where he and his crew play a band of robbers, outrunning a gang of pig-police hellbent on their capture. Unfortunately, the police end up as neatly packaged sausages (another layer of the song is Rocky's veganism), whilst the crooks ooze cool at every turn.

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It is Cohen's vivacious female figures that have caught the fashion world's eye up until this point - with iconic photographer Rankin even going to far as to name her one of five photographers to follow into the future. Although an unofficial commendation, it's one of many titles to add to her already impressive list of awards. Remember, she still hasn't even left her twenties.


Part of Cohen's visual language comes down to world building - creating a dialogue with her audience through mise-en-scene and graphics, as well as the images - an entire package and an approach that lends itself to the making of a music video.


On her directorial role in the video, Cohen said, "There’s a mutual respect and a shared level of taste. He let me go a bit wild which is when I feel I get the best results." Bringing the usually strong characters of her shoots to life - Babushka Boi is the logical conclusion to a collaborative effort with Rocky, a groundbreaking artist himself, and a photographer forging a name in a challenging field.

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Cohen has previously stated that her influences come from beyond fashion, eschewing the 'throwaway' ethos in favour of something more enduring. The ability to last comes from reaching towards making something that has depth beyond aesthetics. For images to be able to last, they must speak to the audience on an emotional level. If we tell or show people something, it's easy enough to forget - but rarely will a person forget how someone has made them feel.


Interestingly, one photographer whose power Cohen admires is the war photographs of Lee Miller, where the photographer was able to capture women in wartime scenarios, showing an entirely different side of conflict - particularly how femininity can be retained in the midst of chaos and destruction.


Cohen, drawing influences from such a wide variety of photographic styles, has managed to construct one all of her own, one that is allowed to run riot in Rocky's latest video and, no doubt, hasn't said goodbye to the video format. It's a part of her oeuvre she's been developing alongside photography and one still ripe for exploration.

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