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With the release this September of an 'expanded' edition of the Rolling Stone's 1973 album Goat's Head Soup comes the addition of three new tracks.

One of these new tracks, Criss Cross, is the lead single from the re-issue and Object & Animal photographer and director Diana Kunst was tasked with creating a video for the song. Kunst, who has shot promos for Madonna, A$AP RockyC. Tangana and James Blake, was approached to use some of her pre-existing work as the basis of the video. The result is a montage of five year's worth of travels with friend and muse Marina, aka Guindilla, plus some extra footage shot in Ibiza at the tail end of the Covid-19 lockdown period. 

I felt we needed to reconnect with the real kid we have inside us that we tend to forget when we are immersed in the hamster wheel of our working lives.

The director's cut of the video [below] features various scenes of nudity and here Kunst confronts why some have labelled the promo as lecherous and misogynist, explains the process of sifting through so much footage, and wonders why we live in such a hypocritical society.

The Rolling Stones – Criss Cross (Director's Cut)

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Above: The director's cut of Kunst's video for The Rolling Stones' Criss Cross.

You'd been filming your trips with your friend Marina since 2015; why did you/the band think that your video diaries would be a great accompaniment to the track? 

Unlike other music videos that I’ve made, the content of this one was not created specifically for the song. As we couldn’t shoot, this opportunity arose because of the lockdown situation we were all living around the world. Semera Khan, the commissioner of this video and someone I’ve worked with before, reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in working on an edit with some of my personal work that she really liked and felt would work nicely with the song.

I feel that the footage is an interesting accompaniment for the track considering the context of the world we find ourselves in right now. We’ve been locked inside our houses for nearly three months and feeling the loss of many things that we took for granted, particulary our freedom of movement and joy. I think it’s refreshing to see this right now, at this specific moment, after that confinement.

I feel that the footage is an interesting accompaniment for the track considering the context of the world we find ourselves in right now.

Lockdown somehow gave us back the gift of time, that precious thing that has become a luxury. I felt we needed to reconnect with the real kid we have inside us that we tend to forget when we are immersed in the hamster wheel of our working lives. We need to move on from an individualistic society that causes segregation, isolation, greed, selfishness, unhealthy competitiveness and much pain and suffering. This only comes by leaving behind the many things we thought necessary before lockdown, valuing instead the things we’d forgotten and have since rediscovered.

Sometimes we just need to be more in our bodies and less in our minds. 

So, although the lockdown took away many things we had taken for granted, it also gave us some very important learnings that we’d forgotten, or that we never had the chance to enjoy. This video comes at a moment in which we really need to remember what we are. Liberate ourselves from all the conditioning that society puts on us and just relax and enjoy the moment.  Sometimes we just need to be more in our bodies and less in our minds. In a way, this is my reminder of that.

Above, from left: Marina, Diana Kunst, 1st AC Alicia Galina Seijo, and Director of Photography Uri Barcelona

Did you have plans to use the footage for anything before being approached by The Stones?

Some of the photos that are in the video had already been exhibited, and I had also made a book with some of the prints called Return to the Brave Old New World. Some of the footage was just for fun, and some was necessary. When Marina and I are together something magical happens and I have so much footage of her that was shot without purpose, inspired only by the beauty of the moment. I’ve also been editing a short documentary with a small percentage of the New York footage you see in the video that doesn’t feature Marina. It’s really my wanderings around NYC observing humans. I’m planning to finish it soon, although I could work on it forever…

You must have had a huge amount of footage; what was the process like in editing it down and finding the best imagery for the video?

It definitely felt like a challenge. I had to go through all my hard drives from the past five years and make a selection of footage. There was about 2TB of material, and I felt that I couldn’t cope with such a huge amount of material that I was so emotionally attached to. So, I called my editing confidant, Carlos Font Clos. We were in the middle of the lockdown, so we couldn’t sit in the same room, he had to jump alone into this vast pool of Marina rushes that he had never seen before. Two things could’ve happened, disaster or success, a middle point would have been impossible.

I couldn’t cope with such a huge amount of material that I was so emotionally attached to.

It was interesting because he was able to see it with distance, without the attachment I had, and without any understanding of the timelines. So, the real challenge was giving it structure, as it really had none. Carlos really did an amazing job of putting it all together. Once the big part of the job was done, I jumped in to add some detail here and there and then the project was put on hold. I moved to Ibiza and, once there, we picked it up again. It was a logistical nightmare as I didn’t have the hard drive with me, and the island’s internet connection was super-slow.

We shot more stuff on film in Ibiza, and we had to edit as soon as the rushes were scanned. With such a quick turnaround Carlos was unfortunately unavailable, so called on Aitor Bigas who, of course, hadn’t been part of the process at all and now had to incorporate this new footage into an old edit. We worked remotely together for two days, then were able to get Carlos back for the last two days. Working remotely on an edit is hard, but this was extremely difficult so I have to say thank you to Carlos and Aitor for giving so much love and patience to this project. The same goes to [producer] Dom Thomas at Object & Animal who kept us all calm and carrying on throughout what was an incredibly intense process.

Click image to enlarge
Above: Marina and Kunst shooting Criss Cross, plus images from the film.

There were some pick-up shots filmed in Ibiza at the tail end of the lockdown period; can you tell us a bit about that and how it was working under strict Covid conditions? 

I was asked to shoot some new material, and since I was already in Ibiza I thought it would be interesting to create something here. It’s a place that has a very magical energy and I already had some material that I had shot here when Marina and I lived here three years ago. I wasn’t sure about shooting with my camera and iPhone. I felt the film maybe needed something a little more cinematic, so I called my talented DP friend, Uri Barcelona, and he came with his AC, Alicia. Then we had Marina and a runner.

I wasn’t sure about shooting with my camera and iPhone. I felt the film maybe needed something a little more cinematic.

We shot for four days with just the five of us. It was a very reduced team both because I wanted to keep the intimacy that I have with Marina when we are alone, and to make things easier and safer to shoot under Covid conditions. It also helped that there weren’t any cases of Covid on the island during the period of our shoot. That’s probably why I didn’t feel it was that different.

Click image to enlarge
Above: Scenes from Criss Cross.

The director's cut features a lot of nudity, which The Guardian referred to as 'somewhat lecherous'; how do you respond to that? 

The Guardian’s comments weren’t written about the director’s cut so I wonder what they would say if they saw it as it has no censorship at all. We had to make a censored version for YouTube, which frustrated me a lot. At the beginning of this project we didn’t know that we’d have to do this. It didn’t make any sense because around 80% of my work with Marina is nudity. I’m so surprised about how people in general react to nudity now in 2020. It feels like we are going backwards.

I’m so surprised about how people in general react to nudity now in 2020. It feels like we are going backwards.

We are constantly fed by an infinite scroll of information and images that show us violence in every way we can possibly imagine, and we tolerate it, but we don’t tolerate the nipples or the nude body of a woman. I think we live in such a hypocritical society, and my answer to The Guardian would be that if the person who wrote the review interprets the images as lecherous, then perhaps he or she is the one with the lecherous mind.

When you see the context of the nudity in this video, it’s clear [it's] used as an expression of freedom, of getting rid of all the social paradigms that cover us with plenty of layers, clothes being one of them. What you wear is not what defines your personality, what defines your personality are your experiences and your values and that’s why we should feel comfortable with nudity because we are able to see each other as we came into the world. It’s should be as pure as that. 

If the person who wrote the review interprets the images as lecherous, then perhaps he or she is the one with the lecherous mind.

To be honest, we didn’t think about it when we started taking photos, but as time passed we realised that we connected so much more because we could be our real selves with each other. We didn’t need to hide behind a cover, we didn’t need to act, we felt the confidence to be as we are. It’s about accepting your body and personality as it is, which is accepting yourself as you are without feeling the necessity to hide or cover it.

So, in my opinion, I think the person who made these comments perhaps needs to reflect and work to feel comfortable with themselves. Acceptance, love and respect of the self is the first step towards being able to achieve this with others.

There’s nothing genuinely authentic anymore because creators, and people in general, are afraid to be totally themselves in case it causes offence.

I have also read that the video objectifies women and is sexiest. Is it a sin now to be sexy as a woman? We can’t punish women for sharing part of their essence. It comes to a point where I feel that we are judging so much that there’s nothing genuinely authentic anymore because creators, and people in general, are afraid to be totally themselves in case it causes offence. To be honest, I’m tired of it. It’s all about context and how these things are presented and portrayed. I think we are smart enough to differentiate.

More love and acceptance and less hate and rejections; that's is the real message of this video.

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