168. EUnify - Berlin 2019  Exactitudes and Souvenir Official 

Interview with Ari Versluis and Ellie Uyttenbroek

Just for those who are not familiar with Exactitudes yet, I think it is best described as a mix of subcultural documentation, a study of sociological behavior and a sort of preservation of fashion-history. But can you explain what the name means to you, how it came about and if you have learned to understand something new throughout working it?

We called the project Exactitudes, which is a contraction of the words Exact and Attitude. Our shared interest in uniformed identities and our obsession in how people like to distinguish themselves by assuming a group identity lead to numerous encounters around the world. It made us aware about the fact one should ‘never judge’ which is still our mentality today.

Before deciding to actually do the ‘Exactitudes 168. EUnify Berlin 2019’ we had a talk on the phone about what it would mean for you to shoot one, more or less, identical piece of clothing coming from one particular brand (our Souvenir Official EUnify hoodie). Why was it important for you to question this and what made the difference for you in the end?

Before recognizing and acknowledging the brand Souvenir, we spotted EUnify hoodies already in the streets and we liked them from the start. A certain type, a certain attitude, a certain political message: An EXA feel. Similarities could be found in the our very first Exactitudes serie Gabber - Rotterdam 1994. These hard techno boys all pledged for that one an only specific type of tracksuit of the Italian sportswear brand Australian. The sportswear brand did not particularly favored that their brand was hijacked by the way. Similar with Fred Perry polo’s and Skins. Now, 25 years there is a total new brand policy dynamic. We are all very much aware of the fact that brands create tribes and ambassadors around them. So there is more emphasis on strategy, artificiality and cultivation nowadays but the participants depicted in the EXA project should be for REAL. And real is what we felt that was the reality check. Looking at the strong potential of Eunify project as a social experiment apart from the Brand Souvenir.

Actually the first portraits you did together was a job for a telecom company and ended up being the first Exactitudes ever, the very iconic ‘Gabbers‘ series. You have also done sort of commercial work collaborations in the past for Lavazza Coffee and with Helmut Lang feat Kanye and Solange. How do you controle and let the commercial part affect the project, for better and/or worse?

The telecom company commissioned us to define 4 different youth cultures which would be, styled en photographed by us and would be integrated in their ‘telephone-cards’ which you could use in a cabin in the street. We were happy to do so since we were fully in to youth culture in general at that time. Gabber was thé scene at that time with weekly raves in big industrial spaces. So Gabber was of course one of the target groups for this commission but finally we invited lots of these boys and girls to explore the scene for our own autonomous work which lead to the forst Exactitude. Commissions like Lavazza, Fnac, Selfridges are basically Art Commissions, this means the commissioner acquires the first art print out of an edition of five. Concerning Helmut Lang, this was quit diffuse. The emphasis was more on the brand and the unique ‘muses’ of the brand. The personal identity of the wearer was mixed with the marketing of the brand. For EUnify is was the same approach. It was a moment in time where we decided to loosen up our rigide concept. Basically today we are back to the core of the project. A staged documentary art project about personal style.

The EUnify project has won great support across ages, (sub)cultures and political affiliation, where as usually Exactitudes mostly is one separate kind of demographic. Why do you think that is?

Exactitudes is an Art project, so demographic choices are based on aesthetics choices. 

What is your personal opinion on the topic of EU and Brexit?

Brexit is insane, but also a result of lame excuses and a lack of political interest by the youth of the United Kingdom during the referendum.

With your experience in the field, can you predict what the next new subculture or movement will be? Or at least what the next Exactitudes will be, if you want to share?

We recently created some new series for The Face Magazine called E-Gees and Uwupies, They both show a young generation of fingerfast smartphone girls who are very digital influenced; ‘meming their mood-of-the day on their too cute tik tok story in a kawaii community’. Apart from that, we are currently focussing on our archive since the 25 year jubilee book will come out in the summer of 2020 which will be accompanied by an exhibition. Lots of organization and artistic concentration. So creating new series is not relevant for now.

„Brexit is insane, but also a result of lame excuses and a lack of political interest by the youth of the United Kingdom during the referendum“

Photography - Exactitudes
Interview - Filip Samuel Berg / Souvenir Official