VESS presents “MIAMI // On Location. Off Season.”, a selection of work created by British, Copenhagen-based Daniel van der Noon and Danish photographer Emil Monty Freddie while in Miami in January earlier this year. The exhibition explores a Miami untangled from beach babes, sunshine and glowing lights. Following today’s vernissage at 5PM, the two artists chatted in free-form without filter about strip clubs, post-production and the hidden side of Miami off season. (Facebook Event.)

— Photos by (the one and only) Abdellah Ihadian

Daniel: What was the thing you looked at first when we walked into that strip club?

Monty: Ummm…the butts, but there were a lot of bad ones. I remember seeing Dollar bills all over because big dudes were spraying them towards the strippers on stage. Next to them was a guy sweeping all the notes together in piles. It was super dodgy in there. It was not a nice place to be but very interesting to observe.

Foto: Abdellah Ihadian https://instagram.com/mr_babdellahn

Foto: Abdellah Ihadian https://instagram.com/mr_babdellahn

D: It was worse than you would imagine – like twice. And I am pretty sure the girls were models. You weren’t allowed to touch them and if you touched the Dollar notes, you’d get thrown out of the place. The broom was smaller than the size of a Dollar. Remember when we got out in the back and there was this homeless woman who looked like somebody from Pirates of the Caribbean but in the monster version? We met so many different characters on that trip. Mark Fisher, a male super model for example. How handsome is he on a scale from 1 out of 10?

Foto: Abdellah Ihadian https://instagram.com/mr_babdellahn

M: 11! The only thing he was constantly talking about was the model volleyball tournament, winning the Powerball lottery and Bruce Weber, the gayest of all photographers. He has two houses next to each other in Miami on Star Island because he didn’t want to have neighbors but ironically that still leaves him with neighbors…There was this thing about Miami. To me it was like the Costa del Sol of America. It is something that once was but now it’s completely forgotten. Miami to me seems like a place where during the late 80s there was somebody who just shouted all of the sudden “There is a party going on over here instead of over there”, and everybody just went off to LA or NYC to party. Miami is all left behind.

Foto: Abdellah Ihadian https://instagram.com/mr_babdellahn

Foto: Abdellah Ihadian https://instagram.com/mr_babdellahn

D: That was definitely amplified by the fact that there were no people. There were naked streets with lights from the 70s and neon-glowing stuff that hadn’t been renovated. The wing sign on Lincoln Avenue even still made a noise when you went past. All of the neon was kind of fading and breaking mixed with new neon that came in and it was shit. Everything was a bit muted and then double muted because it was January.

Foto: Abdellah Ihadian https://instagram.com/mr_babdellahn

M: But although it was off-season, the air was still warm and the colors of the Art Deco color scheme still pop out. And that doesn’t change just because the light is different. Nowadays they are renovating all the Art Deco buildings as well as hotels, and paint them in the same colors as they used to be. They are not changing anything about Miami; they are just giving it a paint job. In the end we got kind of adapted to the weather. On the last day, we were freezing and it was maybe 18 or 19 degrees – way warmer compared to the weather in Copenhagen in January.

Foto: Abdellah Ihadian https://instagram.com/mr_babdellahn

Foto: Abdellah Ihadian https://instagram.com/mr_babdellahn

D: The whole South Beach was empty; nobody was in the water because the waves were too high. I nearly twisted my arm off. Another crazy experience on that trip was the group Venezuelans in Wynwood, the art district of Miami. I hooked up with a gallery owner via Instagram and he invited me to his space where we met them. It was a very shady-ish area but they had everything in that space. They were super chill and we just communicated with all our body parts because they only spoke broken English. One night I was really keen on going out and we all got super drunk together. I got so sick in the end but that was kind of exactly what I was asking for. Then the dolphin-woman made fun of me for being so sick. Somebody eventually got me an Uber home.

M: There were loads of times where I went to bed alone and I would wake up in the morning and you would be there with all of your clothes on. I was like your wife on that trip and you would be the cheating husband. It took you about 3 days to find your light. Remember, I was shooting straight away with my camera but you need your pens and papers. On the third day the Venezuelans took us to a shop that had the whole color palette of Miami.’s Art Deco colors. We bought all of it.

Foto: Abdellah Ihadian https://instagram.com/mr_babdellahn

Daniel Van Der Noon_ Emil Monty_VESS_Abdellah Ihadian-4710

D: That was intense. You’re a bit more flexible in that sense. So every day you just have a path that you follow, come back, upload your pictures and you’re happy with yourself because you’ve gotten something to play with in the end of the day. Whereas I absorb things that don’t necessarily get recorded, so I have an itch to get it all out but I also need the environment to do that. I was moody for a while until I found what I needed. Then I was just full on for a few days.

M: I think this exhibition is one of many on the line about cities. Before you were all about drawing cities in a detailed way but what happened in Miami was that your drawings changed. My photographs are also very different to what I am used to doing. Usually there are people in my pictures because all I do campaigns and I have a picture in my head before I start. In Miami I just started peeling together stories as I was walking. The images haven’t been retouched excessively on purpose. You see so much post-production on Miami – everything is exaggerated. But both of our art work is not as vivid in the same as you would think; it’s a real presentation of what Miami looks like off season.

Foto: Abdellah Ihadian https://instagram.com/mr_babdellahn

Foto: Abdellah Ihadian https://instagram.com/mr_babdellahn

Foto: Abdellah Ihadian https://instagram.com/mr_babdellahn