Editor, Les Editions Purple
Elein Fleiss was born in April 1968 in Paris. Though she began her
career as a curator of art exhibitions and made her name in 1992
by publishing the inspirational Purple magazine with Olivier Zahm;
over the next ten years, in its various incantations, Purple Prose,
Purple Fashion and Purple Sex have all gone on to become
In 2003 she went solo and established the quarterly Hélène, and
in 2004 Les Editions Purple was established as a host to original
expression in its chronicles, essays, stories and photographs.
Picking up a camera in 1998, Fleiss’ photography is now widely
published in Purple, Big, Home, Here and There and the Japanese
magazine Ryuko Tsushin, as well as in two books published by
One Star Press and Poetry of Sex respectively. From 2002 to 2005,
her contribution to Ryuko Tsushin took the form of a diary including
prose and photos. Her work has been exhibited venues worldwide
including 380° Gallery, Japan (Poetry of Sex, Trees are So Special),
Centre Culturel Français de Milan (D’aucune histoire) and Centre
Culturel Français de Turin (Chroniques turinoises). Her recent foray
into ﬁlmmaking has produced three visually stunning works shot
on super 8: Denise in 2001, Lui in 2003 and Kumiko in 2004.
Fleiss lives in Paris with her cats: Johnny, Lulu, and Blanche and
leads the enviable existence of managing her life in a way that
means nearly everything she does is fun, or at least pleasurable…
Who are you? And what do you do for a living?
My name is Elein Fleiss. I am a 38 year-old woman.
I publish a magazine, I write, I take photographs
Do you trust yourself?
What have you done since you woke up this morning?
Breakfast, email, reading news online (Libération, Le Monde,
The New York Times), laundry. It’s now 10:30am; often I am
just waking up at this time
What is your earliest memory?
Picking up my newborn brother and mother from hospital
with my father, in a cab. I was four.
Do you believe in life after death?
Which historical ﬁgure would you like to take out,
and what would you like to show them?
I wouldn’t want the historical ﬁgures I admire — all artistic
(Tolstoi, Blok, Tsvetaeva, Arendt, Brodsky…) — to see the
world as it is today
Were you a popular child?
Only to a few people
What is the meaning of life?
Creation, knowledge and love
Do you scare easy?
Yes, very easy. But I’m not afraid of illness
When and where were you most happy?
If I had to choose a place, it would be during most
of my trips to Japan. But memory lies
If you could have put a stop to any one thing in
the last 50 years what would it have been?
Disappearance of love
Which public space do you like best?
Which private space do you like best?
Do you subscribe to a particular belief?
Yes; things are getting worse
What do you like most about fame and success?
I hate it. Everything that goes with success (I never got
fame) — servility, indulgence and ﬂattery — are weapons
that annihilate freedom, inspiration and discernment
What do you do for fun?
I manage my life in a way to make nearly everything I do
fun, or at least pleasurable
Who was the ﬁrst cultural ﬁgure to inﬂuence you?
Beside my friends, Marguerite Duras
What was the ﬁrst thing you produced/participated
in that you are particularly proud of?
Creating Purple Prose in 1992 when I was 24
What is your number one priority?
Why do you do what you do?
Sharing what I like and the way I see things.
Resisting the world as it goes and its ideology
What is your principal defect?
I don’t see my life and what I do in terms of
successes and defects
What is your most marked characteristic?
Resistance; for better, for worse
What would you like to be better at?
Studying, thinking and putting thoughts into words
What quality do you most like in man?
What is the quality you most like in woman?
What is sexy?
Intelligence associated with spontaneity and charm
What is your favourite sound?
Do you collect anything? If so what?
Japanese wood dolls
Which work of art do you most covet for
Japanese wood dolls, and the many contemporary
works of art I own held in storage
Which book do you keep returning too?
At the moment, Aleksandr Blok, Writings in Prose,
translated in French
What was the last ﬁlm you watched,
and was it any good?
The Godfather I, II and III. I absolutely loved the ﬁrst one,
I liked the second ok, and loved the third. I watched one
a week at a movie theatre in Paris (where you can still see
many old movies) and during the last two weeks I was
ﬁlled with wonder
What do you predict for America?
The worst; the American people will get fucked even more
through the use of propaganda (political and capitalistic)
resulting in growing ignorance and acculturation
What is humanity’s biggest failing?
Please describe the space you are in?
A large window (plants behind it), off-white thick cotton
curtains (opened), high ceiling, white stoned ﬂoor. To my
right, dark grey shelves up to ceiling, with art books, magazines,
cds, a stereo which is now connected to my computer (playing
Tom Verlaine live, I recorded on an Internet radio station),
ofﬁce supply, photo boxes, dictionaries, my wood dolls collection
(5 pieces) and an old mirror. Behind me, more shelves, up to
waist and above it, what I call ‘my wall’, taped photos (mine
and others), postcards, drawings, texts and the only artwork
on my walls, a Louise Lawler piece from 1987, tes-vous heureuse?
(Are you happy?). Two faces stands, Keith Richard on the cover
of Façade (#14, July ’83) and an old black ß white photo of
Elizabeth Taylor. They both have an intense look and expression,
and they’re not smiling. I am in my ofﬁce (11 square meter),
which is as you enter my apartment and where I spend most
of my (awake) time
What is the best bit of advice you can give to
someone who wants to succeed?
If one really wants success, I’d advise this person he’s a jerk.
In case this person would rather prefer achievement
(accomplishment), then I’d advise them to follow their desire
and their heart
Is life serious?
Tell us a joke?
I’m the worst person for joke; I don’t know any and I usually
don’t understand them.
What is love?
A beautiful movement of the soul toward one person,
or better, others
If you were to ask any two questions of any
two living people, whose work/life you admire,
what would they be and whom would you ask?
To a gardener: What’s the best time in year to prune the
plants on my windowsill?
To a tennis player: What’s wrong with my drive?