Questioning Identity through Photography
One of the most remarkable shows during the last Arles festival was the Hans Eijkelboom exhibition. Curated by Erik Kessels, it showcased the early and most recent work of the Dutch artist. In "With My Family" series, the photographer rang at the houses’ bell while husbands were still at work. Eijkelboom, portrayed himself with the children and wife, posing as if he was the head of the household. Strangely, he fits perfectly in every family portrait.
"In the Newspaper" series are worth a note as well. Eijkelboom appeared in the background of news photographs in the local newspaper over ten consecutive days.
The author about “10 Euro Outfits”: ”I bought 32 new outfits for myself, initially once a week, later once a fortnight. The only criterion for my choice was the price: it couldn’t be higher than ± 10 euros.” The outfits were fold underneath each picture in a crystal box and , happily Hans was there taking photos of the visitors of his own show.
I left the exhibition with a big smile on my face.
About Portraying, Gestures and Borrowed Dogs: An essay by Richard Avedon
From Richard Avedon Portraits book, 2002
When I was a boy, my family took great care with our snapshots. We really planned them. We made compositions. We dressed up. We posed in front of expensive cars, homes that weren’t ours. We borrowed dogs. Almost every family picture taken of us when I was young had a different borrowed dog in it. The photographs on these pages are of my mother, my sister and myself. It seemed a necessary fiction that the Avedons owned dogs. Looking through our snapshots recently, I found eleven different dogs in one year of our family album. There we were in front of canopies and Packards with borrowed dogs, and always, forever, smiling. All of the photographs in our family album were built on some kind of lie about who we were, and revealed a truth about who we wanted to be.
Hands of Jacques-Louis David’s The Death of Socrates, 1787
Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara when they were in love in Her
In this trip to this not-so-distant future, Spike Jonze digs in the 2.0 society relationships. Theodore Twombly, a heart-broken ghost writer falls in love with an Operating System. Rather than looking for his inner self, Joaquin Phoenix’s character seeks for shelter in this sensual, artificial voice brought by Scarlett Johansson. A song serves as a picture to bridge the virtual link between the human and the robot, enhancing this tech romance, which feels real for both the viewer and the leading character.
In this distant era, the soft palette (orange, yellow and red) and the studied urban landscapes (a superb elevator with changing mirrors, sleek furniture and vast lofts, massive buildings looming over the plugged-in workers) give a feeling of warmth to the spectator. Beauty is another character of the film, from technology devices (gorgeous and minimalist cell phones and computer screens) to the perfect retro-futuristic costume design, where even high-waisted pants make Phoenix look interesting and weird yet a little sloppy.
Additionally, the night scenes with city lights and the loneliness of the protagonist scenes remind to Sofia Coppola’s ( Jonze’s ex-wife) Lost in Translation.
Personally, I felt very touched by this story as it talks about so many contemporary issues. How we deal with technology, how it has modified our lives, from dawn until dusk. (and even whilst sleeping!) Moreover, Her examines how quickly the internet and global technology have changed our lives.
I used to blame my ex-boyfriend about his intensive use of his laptop aka his “other girlfriend”. Recently I was hooked by a guy that I knew through his hilarious photographs found online. Luckily I met him and later on I dug into his digital identity (widely spread on social media) which made me swiftly fall in love with him. Did I really like him or what he pretends to be in the cyberspace? What if our urge to connect through technology prevents us from connecting, learning to be with ourselves and meeting people in real life? Will we come back to the hand written letters?
Every day I “make” new friends on Facebook. And every day I see this eagerness to connect. The brilliant script of Her reflects accurately this feeling about our desire and need to connect. This movie is also a grown-up meditation about something much more durable than romantic (and fast-food, easy) love. Their digital romance goes through the most common stages of a relationship (mystery, passion, honeymoon, routine, boredom) which leads us to rethink about the nature of relationships.
A wistful and human film to not miss.
it felt like i knew you…, 2012 - ongoingI ride the NYC subway trains, usually in the evening when the seats are full. I focus on the shape of the space between the person sitting next to me and myself. I attempt to mentally and emotionally re-sculpt that space. In my mind, I reshape it- from the stiff and guarded space between strangers to the soft and yielding space between friends. I direct all my energy to this space between us. When the space palpably changes, and I completely feel like the stranger sitting next to me is my friend, I rest my head on that person’s shoulder…
As Far as I Could Get
Love this series that John Divola took in the nineties. Look all around his so 90’s website to discover high resolution images, statements and installations.
Already tackled by Lee Friedlander’ photographs “At Work” , this serie takes a step further in the banal landscape of the office life. Florian van Roekel' “How Terry Likes his coffee” documents not only workers and office buildings but also ground plans which are used to separate chapters, doodles, ankle shots of the almost alive suit jackets, and endless meetings in-between moments immersing the viewer in the details of that world. Backgrounds often appear black, inviting the viewer to take a place and look at this stage where workers act as robots. Ranging from energetic and stressful ambition to comfortable dullness , van Roekel makes this banal environment much more abstract and deeper.
The use of diptychs emphasize the different experience of time inside this environment, as a lost gaze interacts with a hand playing with a pen and later hangs up the phone. Obscure images of hands, head shots and blowing leaves lit by harsh sunshine close this brilliant book.
Fear of fall series is also worth watching!
Not an Ordinary Fashion Photographer!
Charlie Engman’s creative mind produces images featuring contorted positions. The effect is captivating, with an air of mystery and sentimentality. In his pictures, the human body is an sculpture, and a performance at the same time. Ordinary scenes are captured differently in Domestic Diorama’ series, where the body lies strangely in domestic spaces.
When it comes to fashion, his collages and superpositions of colors, objects, background paper rolls and black and white photographs next to color ones build a stunning composition.
Have a look at his Tumblr , an impressive drawer of sketches and inspirations.