Interview and Photo: Lyz Olko
Already fabulously accomplished at the age of 19 years old, Manon Macasaet sat down with Lyz Olko to focus on just a few aspects from her repertoire centering around her Dream House zine that she created with (and about) her longtime friends collaborators, Sabrina and Alex (the Sab & Alex of the subtitle).
Known to many as Mingblingbling via Instagram handle, Macasaet is a photographer and filmmaker, and also the creator of a dollhouse that accompanied the zine. All of this just forms the tip of the iceberg for her in-depth chat with Olko.
“Adolescence is not just an age group: it is a necessity for the fate of the world.” – Francesco Bonami
Lyz: Your Instagram is this beautiful diary, showing moments in time in your life. I was reading through the captions, and many of them stand out on their own like tiny poems.
“Felt like I was on mushrooms the first time we hung out even though I wasn’t now I kinda want you to go fuck yourself is that bad”
This is amazing. Do you consider writing to be a part of your repertoire an artist?
Manon: Hahahah oh my goodness thank you! I am happy you appreciated that one. Came straight from the heart, it’s recently been stomped on. I actually have a short film coming out soon based off my recent experience with romance. Think it’s gonna be a blockbuster hit….
In terms of writing, I’ve always kept a diary and been interested in it. School writing isn’t so fun for me but I like writing stuff when I’m feeling a lot. I guess I can consider it part of my repertoire. Once I wrote a poem I thought was super corny when I was working at this ad agency but Sab read it and urged me to have a poetry slam.
Lyz: Sab & Alex – the zine. Tell me about the first time the 3 of you met and how? …….
Manon: I met Sab and Alex at different times. I met Sab first when I was 14 and she was 13 I believe. She was wearing a denim dress and her old glasses and she introduced herself to me outside of Vfiles where we would soon intern together.I remember thinking she was so sweet right off the bat. From there we saw each other all the time and often frequented McDonalds to get McNuggets and dip them in honey, a secret Danielle taught us. Me and Alex met in a funnier way at the weird clubhouse school we went to. We met when I was in the middle of practicing the bass and I got a little shy. His hair was blue and I was 16. Alex made school a lot more fun since I had just him and one other friend there. He always came in looking super stylish and I’d be wearing sweats. Anyways, the rest is history.
Lyz: This zine was made over a 2 year period of photographing Alex and Sabrina, did know that making this zine was your end goal or did you just document them “because” and then as you went developed the idea?
Manon: I think that two years ago after realizing how much I loved my early pictures of Alex and Sabrina I got inspired to make a project dedicated to them. So I kind of did know this was the end goal. Although most pictures in the zine aren’t planned. Even the more transformed themed pictures with the exception of a few were things I thought of creating after the photos were taken. I just love documenting our lives. This book was actually supposed to come out last year. I’m glad it didn’t, timing is kind of perfect because they are about to go to London, so I feel like this book encapsulates a specific era for us.
Lyz: Your aesthetic is so all-encompassing and special and so unique to you. When we went to your opening I was blown away by every last detail inside the dollhouse and within the gallery space itself which included: a girl in a bunny suit, a cotton candy machine, charms and other incredible details ….. my friend Yulu pointed out the lollipop saver hanging on a chain around your neck. All these things are so, well, MANON. Looking into the dollhouse was like jumping into a Candy World Cremaster. Does this serve as a physical representation of this dreamworld? How did you come up with the dollhouse idea?
Manon: Wow thank you so much for saying all that. That’s the exact effect I was going for. The dream house show was really meant to be the physical embodiment of my dream world. Ever since I was like early early teen I started to personify my idea of complete happiness with a dream house. Does that make sense? I hope it does. By that, I don’t mean an expensive mansion I mean a house where there’s everything I might ever need that I could lock myself into. In theory of course, I’d get cabin fever. But by everything I need I mean all my loved ones and favorite things. Which is kind of what the dream house show was. So many friends that inspire me were in there in the form of their tiny works of art. What really started this whole thing though was when I found miniature doll frames at Tokyo hands in Japan. I wanted to show tiny art inside the, and there’s no better place than a dollhouse to do that. Finally, the dream house got to become real.
People complain that being a teenager is hard but looking back I loved every minute of it, I'm practically hanging on to nineteen.
Lyz: Can you tell me a bit about Dizzy mag and what this is and how you came to collaborate on this zine?
Manon: I totally agree I think teen-dom is so important and special. It’s a time everyone gets in between adolescence and adulthood. where you get to play. Things aren’t so serious yet. This doesn’t last forever. People complain that being a teenager is hard but looking back I loved every minute of it, I’m practically hanging on to nineteen for dear life because it’s my last teen year. I’ve learned so much. I used to be so afraid of growing up but not so much anymore. I feel lucky right now that I get to learn about the world around me while still being somewhat protected. This is our time to experiment and do as we please because we have the rest of our lives to be grown-ups.
Lyz: Francesco Bonami writes in “The Fourth Sex”: “Without adolescence albeit biological or ideal reality would slowly move toward atrophy. Where there is no teenager there is no future.” There is something so incredible about this period in a person’s life, I am still so influenced and inspired by my personal experiences during this time. It is this like a huge moment of transformation. I think it’s also a reason why I am so drawn to your work. Can you define what teen-dom is to you right now, /what it means?
Manon: Dizzy is my favorite magazine hands down. It’s the best thing out. I find a lot of magazines to be repetitive these days, full of regurgitated references and Dizzy is something new and actually inspiring to me. My friends Milah and Arvid created it and I am so grateful to have published my first book with Dizzy. Those two are geniuses and I learned a lot in this process with them. We decided to do this together when we were all in Japan and we made it happen. I love working with friends especially when they are on their shit the way they are. I don’t think I could have done this in better company. They rock.
Lyz: What are your top 5 favorite movies?
Manon: I gotta say, I love 10 things I hate about you, Donnie Darko, Pee-wee Herman’s Big Adventure, Running on Empty, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and oh! The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl …..sorry that’s 6.
Lyz: What’s your favorite candy?
Manon: This one is a toughie, I really love so many candies. But I love Nerds, Zots, taffy, baby bottle pops, and warheads. Also, I can really get down with some Raisinets even though most people (besides Alex) would disagree with me.
Lyz: You speak about hovering between real and fantasy worlds …. The film stuff you make on VHS is super dreamy. How did you start using this medium?
Manon: Thanks so much that’s exactly what I wish to achieve. I started shooting VHS maybe a year and a half ago. I was obsessed with my dad’s camcorder as a toddler so it felt like home when I returned back to the medium. I had been shooting just photos for a while before that but one day was talking to my friend Gabe about picking it up because I wanted to try something new and he recommended me my first camera. Now my trusty steed. I love it a lot. On top of me being able to document me and my friends lives more vividly it’s also opened up a new line of work for me which is cool. I plan on doing it for a long time.