Photographer Charlotte Kidd has the unique ability to look alluringly uncontrived, whether simple, in shorts and a tee, or bold, in a sheer negligee and tuxedo jacket. Her effortless style exposes the unusual blend of her grounded and adventurous values. Self-deprecating, Charlotte is the earth mother of her artist colony in Brooklyn, yet she refers to herself as the shallow one of her well-read, socially conscious, nuclear family simply because she cares about fashion. But to know Charlotte is to see how little clothes mean to her, and her take-it-or-leave-it attitude is exactly what makes her sartorial expression so appealing. We love how she makes an 80s Donna Karan bodysuit look so right with railroad stripe pants and a vintage satin baseball jacket, but material appearances only barely make Charlotte tick: "None of my family could give a flying fuck about a fashion shoot. They stay home and read. But I want to see what's there and what they've dismissed."
Edgy taste aside, family, nature, art, and mostly community are what's on Charlotte's mind. While she is a humble frontierswoman who attended college in Berlin, Charlotte also possesses the hutzpah to document truckers on the open road (naked), commune with ancient Incan tribes (whose locations are a five-day trek into the jungle), and buy a building in the raw Red Hook in order to create an interdisciplinary artist space. About the ambition behind her homey warehouse, Charlotte discloses: "I want it to be like organs; they're working and talking with each other and no one has to organize it -- it just happens." The youngest of four siblings realized that the loneliness of New York City necessitated the creation of a "little family" -- one that's "self-sustaining and self-functioning." A computer lab, a music room, a film studio, a gallery -- all of these fields fuse together. The diversity drives dialogue and compels creativity. "I love how I can just talk to someone to clarify my own thinking. The warehouse has this buzz and this energy."
A fanatic for connection and expression, Charlotte loves to hang out, but not without a purpose. In her most still moments, she is either reading voraciously in a local coffee shop, whittling with a knife on a stick in the countryside, or chipping away at long-term projects, like her epic, historic kitchen that transports you to the medieval, culinary orgy of Gerard Depardieu's the Return of Martin Guerre. Charlotte's straightforward passions are paired with a fearlessness. Her interest in the motels and diners of the US led her to photograph a series of truck drivers, having them undress and pose as if they were the subjects of a classical painting. "Some would get vulnerable and tender, and some were cocky and acted like jocks," Charlotte remarks of her daring encounters. Her craving for forming bonds has flung her all over earth, from Normandy (where she photographed gypsies and the cyanide capsules of Nazi higher-ups) to the Amazon where she hunted, hiked, and swam in the same river as alligators with the Achuar and Shuar tribes (whose senses she describes as so much more attuned). "I'd rather be pregnant with four kids, sitting in a nice house, and being content," Charlotte told us. But in her drive to nurture and bring people closer together, she is already giving birth.
Elisa & Lily
Charlotte's video was edited by Aileen Haugh.
Read about Charlotte Kidd's relentless drive for self expression here.