photographers, models, etc. out there are going through the same experiences. Sadly, we are far from seeing the end of this crusade against creative freedom, especially with anything related to erotic art. Intolerance will be the next problem in the near future; actually it’s already here – just look at the censorship campaigns that lack any sense of social understanding.
No, because in a way no matter what you do or how you create your work, when you follow your heart and passion it always shows up in what you do. What I mean is that even if I painted a nice little house with a nice little prairie with a family sitting in the grass eating lunch, people will still find something to complain about because either the colours are too rich or the lady on the grass looks too much like Bettie Page.
SDk: Your orientation as a person seems to embrace an international community consciousness based on creativity and uninhibited expression in all artistic and cultural endeavours, and you appear to be doing all you can to promote this community consciousness. Is this the case? If so, what are your shortterm goals and what are your long-term ambitions? What have been your achievements and your disappointments?
A: You are absolutely right, the Ventcour project is the starting point where I want to mix unknown authors
and artists in all styles and create various artistic projects. I first gave myself a twoyear goal to create, with the help of our friends, writers and artists from Austria, a website where we can all be united. Then, with this done, start selling limited editions of our quality artistic books on the ’net.
But before continuing let me explain what is Stroff-Arts. StroffArts was created in 1996 and was registered in 1999 when we published our first book. It was a small book of dark poetry called Paul Stroff, written by JeanFrançois Turgeon and illustrated by myself. This full-colour book was intended to be simple in every way, no glamour or complicated text, or complex drawings; the subject was a classic loveand-death story. When this 55 page book came out, it was received mostly positively by youth, but it also met with a lot of negative criticism and accusations against us; for example, we were “deranged drug addicts”; our book should be burned (this was said by the father of a librarian I knew); one local community radio station said it was violent and weird; and then there had to be a feminist who added that the book was degrading for women (I had a laugh there); and so on…
In 1997 no publisher wanted to hear us out or give us the chance to express ourselves, even those organisations and people that clearly advertise support for local and original work. The classic excuse was: “You don’t fit in”.
After two years of that we decided to become our own publishers. We worked hard to pay off everything ourselves to create something strong that would not only publish our own work, but also quality work from other writers who are going through similar problems. Being reduced to silence is unacceptable to us, and publishing original work without “castration” is our goal.
Everybody involved is excited and will help make this work; I’m more than pleased at how things are going. On the other hand, and in keeping with my past experience, every and I mean every so-called public body – including those government ones that say “We help” – never supported us or took the time to understand our goals and how they can help emerging artists. Instead, they help out friends and artistic cliques with generous grants – they nourish them each year. For those who don’t believe me, just start a constructive project that is not conventional but still offers a well-structured plan and you will see for yourself. I had a more positive response from private sponsors that not only took the time to understand the project but also made some generous donations. Sadly, this is when we see a real separation in this society: the cliques, and those who are on the outside.
We publish ourselves simply because it was a necessity and also because there is no true public help out there
when you are off the mainstream, and that’s reality. You must take control of your projects with people who believe in it and not wait for public help.
SDk: You have in the past acknowledged your fellow artist, model and former girlfriend, Mélanie, for helping to keep your “feet on the ground”; you’ve also mentioned the “ego-controlling” effect the talent of other artists has had on you. Have you had ego problems in the past? How did these problems manifest for you, and what do you think is at the root of such problems for artists?