Joie Iacono is a diamond, polished to shine, reflecting, refracting, and bending light at she desires. A photographer, painter, designer, director, DJ, and collaborator, Iacono is a many-faceted gem who best embodies the phrase, “I am every woman.” She first picked up a camera at the age of eight and turned the lens upon herself, becoming both artist and model in each frame.
Iacono reveals, “My work is diaristic; I am always pulling elements from what is going on in my life, to re-enact and perform these moments for the camera. I am an artist, a business woman, a wife, a homemaker, and a world traveler—yet I’ve been an outsider all of my life. As humans, we are such chameleons. I believe in making the world what I want it to be. My birthday is December 31; according to astrocartography, that’s the Day of the Joker. The Joker is no card and yet it is all the cards in the deck at the same time.I experience nothing and everything. In my art I am capturing the experiences I am having from a tertiary place. I am observing the changes and allowing the process to take place. My mantra for the last couple of years has been to let experiences pass through myself, rather than carry them with me. I am being a receptor, a channel, a path for these ideas.”
It is through these channels that Iacono’s iconography travels, finding its form as it makes its way through time and space. As she changes location, she also changes form. Where she was previously focused on photography in New York, Iacono has become much more invested in music in Berlin. She recalls, “A few years ago when I was touring around Europe a lot with Antony and the Johnsons, I began to have very strong desires to leave the U.S. permanently. Growing up in New York, which is such a transitory place, I met so many people from all over the world who were dying to get to New York City, meanwhile I was dying to experience the places they had come from. As my concerns about the current climate in America grew, my desire to move grew. Living in New York started to feel too forced to me.”
In September 2013, painter Cédrix Crespel collaborated with Iacono on “Exhibition J.O.I.E.” at AD Galerie in Montpellier. She recalls, “I used the show as a jumping off point to leave New York, without really knowing where we would end up, like Lewis Carroll wrote in Alice in Wonderland:
“Alice came to a fork in the road. “Which road do I take?” she asked.
“Where do you want to go?” responded the Cheshire Cat.
“I don't know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the Cat, “it doesn't matter.”
Iacono continues, “I had some really amazing friends in Berlin advocating for me, and it was through them that I began getting some DJ bookings and traveling to Berlin for them... and the city seemed to open for me a bit. It makes me think of this quote I saw somewhere on the Internet that states “Go where you are celebrated, not tolerated,” which sums up a lot of leaving NYC to Berlin for me.
“There is a lot more ease and grace to living as an artist here, though of course the art and fashion industry here face similar issues as in other cosmopolitan cities. However, there’s an inherent respect for artists and creatives here. In fact, in Germany, artists can receive a pension. The idea of a society caring for their artists and valuing their contribution is really important. The entire city is really centered around art and music. Every courtyard you pass, every storefront, everywhere is art and music, or the promotion of it.
“I have been collecting music since I was a kid and DJing for the last 10 years for Diesel Jeans, Thompson Hotels, and at some clubs & bars here and there, but it was more of a hobby for me, something I did simply because I was passionate about it. In the first couple of weeks of being in Berlin, I was DJing on the rooftop of Soho House Berlin and I met Zoe Rasch, a brilliant agent and manager, and we really connected. Later that week she signed me to her Music Management agency, Birds and Bells, which focuses mainly on promoting female DJs, more specifically within a fashion and corporate environment for DJing as well as Music Consultancy.
“I realized at that time that the universe really does give you what you want, but in ways you might not necessarily expect or have imagined. I kept saying that I want to work creatively with sound and vibrations, but this was just a vague idea... to use sound to affect people, or heal. Initially I was thinking within a museum or art gallery context, but I think ultimately in the end it’s all the same. There’s something about music that affects us so deeply, stirs up our energetic centers and can make us feel and experience so much. Everything in the world is simply a vibration, a frequency, a resonance... so it’s no wonder that music can affect us so much. The term 'Musical Frisson' describes when music gives you chills, caused by a flush of dopamine over the brain triggered by the music which increases your heart rate, dilates your pupils, and raises your body temperature... and when it’s communal it’s even more powerful. As a DJ you play with this and take people on a journey, give them the unexpected as well as meet their expectations. It’s primal and spiritual at the same time.
“I play what I love, so a lot of it feels very personal for me, to get up there and play what I hold most dear, for the scrutiny of an audience... it’s somehow vulnerable. On the flip side, it’s also a source of power. What I play is coming from my heart and my fantasy realm, so it reflects what is inspiring me at the moment.
“Each gig and their different factors inform these fantasies. For example, I was invited to play at Mint, which is a Berlin electronic music institution that promotes only female talent. For the photo shoot for the promotional posters for the event I wore a coat designed by the amazing Berlin based designer Bobby Kolade, made of barkcloth, which is an ancient, handmade textile made from the bark of Ugandan fig trees and designated by Unesco as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
“En route to the photo shoot exactly three black cats passed before me, flashing their brilliant green eyes at me, making eye contact. This idea of embodying a house cat, set free in the wild really inspired me. I wanted to embody this in the portrait and this idea somehow made it’s way into my set for that night and has inspired other sets going forward. It represents some kind of unleashed, strong feminine power to me I guess... I wanted to be a sexy black cat...
“And this is how I work really, I take my inspirations, influences, travel fantasies, and favorite references just as I would with a visual work and inject them into what I play. Sometimes it’s an innate process and comes out through mixing genres and creating a new experience through that. I work with music the same way I edit my photographs. Sometimes it’s not just about a photograph, or a song... but a nuance in them, and what happens to that nuance when it sits next to another image (or song!) This is how I work and create these narratives. Since a lot of my inspiration comes from fashion, DJing fashion events are the perfect opportunity for me to have some fun.
“For example, last weekend I DJ’ed for Escada and was really inspired by memories of Escada fashion campaigns from the 80’s and 90’s. Usually what makes me love a song is if it strikes some part of me, if one of my archetypes is somehow present within it, or gives me those goosebumps. A lot of my mixes and a lot of what I play are coming from my inner life, and expressing myself... sometimes sexually, sometimes spiritually, etc.
“For me, chic goes back to authenticity. Chic is never overworked, never overthought, and never tries too hard. It is about a certain ease of being. When I see something or someone that is chic it gives you that Stendhal syndrome feeling... a shock of aesthetic perfection...”