I met with Jasmine Golestaneh, lead singer of Tempers, visual artist, and Oxford alum, to chat about her recent collaboration with James Valeri—fashion photographer and editor of Document Magazine. Valeri has commissioned her to chop up his images of idyllic, stunning fashion muses, and insert them into worlds of her own making—beautifully pagan, if not slightly dangerous backdrops that flirt with the divide between fine art and black metal.
Golestaneh (pronounced Go-Less-Tan-ahhhh) creates works that cross boundaries between visual arts, fashion, and Rock’n’Roll as a way to exercise her many creative demons. Since coming of age in the swamps of Florida as a child, she has lived in Paris, London, and now New York City, where she’s busy cultivating her creative niche and her own personal legacy.
“At the end of the day, history is really just fiction,” she confessed, as we waited in line at the café down the street from her Tribeca studio, where she had been working to Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures when I rang. “You take a list of dates and facts and interpret them basically however you like,” she added. Golestaneh studied history at Oxford University before moving to New York. “I should’ve probably majored in literature,” she said, her cup hiding a playful smirk.
Decked in black leather and rocker nonchalance, a trait betrayed only by her bright-eyed curiosity, Golestaneh strikes a classic image of the New York artist. She is anachronistic, beautiful, and probably a little vain, but too obsessed with her creative projects to spend time on narcissism. She gives the impression of a woman with her feet firmly on the ground, but reserving the right to retreat very quickly into her own imaginary worlds.
Citing Leonard Cohen and Rimbaud as influences that have “haunted her since her youth,” Golestaneh’s aesthetic includes bits of light-hearted destruction, comingling with very natural forces. In “Snake,” a Victorian-esqe couple ride a rainbow into the mouth of a giant black snake. The composition and perspective are reminiscent of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 1973 cult classic Holy Mountain.
“I am inspired by dreams and visions I see while meditating. I like how non-sensical configurations of imagery can feel so familiar, truthful or nostalgic.” She said. “Nature is also a big theme. And I use things like forests, volcanoes and animals to illustrate internal environments and states of being.”
On her project with Valeri, Golestaneh states that “James was interested to see what would happen if my work merged with his fashion photography and styling,” and “wanted to explore how they might interact in that psychic landscape.”
Golestaneh’s studio is sparse, save an electric guitar, some magazine tears, and collages scattered around the space in different states of assemblage. In this space, she straddles multiple genres without acknowledging the creative silos between them. “I’m just articulating the creative impulses I have,” she said. “It feels primal and instinctive to do these things, like eating and sleeping.”
One can imagine her in this room, assembling pieces of collage art in between long hours of writing dark synth-driven music for Tempers—her duo with guitarist and keyboardist Eddie Cooper.
“I collect old books and magazines from the $1 shelf. I’m always delighted by the variety of books that sit side by side — Mexican cooking, tours of European castles, manuals on flower arrangement and Haitian voodoo rituals. I make all the collages by hand. I tear pages and cut out things that speak to me, then I experiment by placing the cut-outs in different landscapes until there is a spark between forms. It’s instinctual and surprising, I am usually driven by the music I am listening to in that moment. Thankfully it’s a peaceful process, even if I am playing Norwegian Black Metal, I am utterly tranquil.
Fashion has been a home for Jasmine’s work as it allows for many artistic disciplines. Hence, her scoring of “Joli,” by Phillip Lim and Lane Crawford, fronting a band, and creating collages for Valeri. Her methods show a designer’s tendency toward OCD, but the execution is refreshingly non-commercial. Her juxtaposition of pretty fashion models in situations of underlying sexual energy and danger is striking.
“I think of my collages as visual poems. They are romantic, longing for something precious, ghostly and unobtainable.” She said. “I want the images to evoke many meanings without meaning anything in particular. That way they hold a different story for each person. Alone they are floating and amorphous, but they can be concretized and completed by a viewer’s projection.”
Golestaneh Collages for Valeri (below) are courtesy of I Like My Style.