This work examines the relationship between photographer and model, placing itself in the space between exploitation and fashion. There is both the sense of nostalgia for youth and a longing for the vibrance and sexuality of it.
To define this relationship as exploitative is not to say that it is always, or even often, a malicious exploitation, just that the photographer always uses the model for their own ends. The subject is the objectified other, and there is an intrinsic unkindness in that.
This idea came from a love of fashion photography and continues my use of appropriation, whereby the poses within it were lifted from advertising imagery, and then mediated through me, by either me acting them out, or by giving the model a basic stick figure sketch. This love of the history and uses of photography is also present in how the work was made, as it was shot on grainy film and hand printed. The work is about the act of photographing, and what that photograph is, just as much as the relationship between photographer and model.
This work represents the culmination of a three-year project that began with The Complexity of Ideas series and then flowed into Hollywood Film Stills. The arc that has stretched across these works has been about placing myself within discussions about gender, identity and the relationship between the sexes. With The Complexity of Ideas, I sought to look at these concepts from different angles and perspectives, while at the same time declaring my standpoint as that of a male artist. Then, in the Hollywood Film Stills series, the central focus of the project shifted to addressing ideas around the representation of the self, as a male artist, using tropes and visual language more closely associated with feminist art and sub-cultural identity movements.
Finally, with The Unkindness series I have sort to address ideas around the female as the unknowable other, taking on the existentialist notion that in any interaction you are either the objectified, or the objectifier. In some images the models gaze is one of uncertainty, in others the identity has been cropped from the model, so that they are more gesture than individual, and then in others the model knowingly confronts you with her gaze. This idea gives birth to the second sense of unkindness within the work, the unkindness in the gaze of a young woman, looking back at you, confronting you, in your gazing upon her.
With the works titled Greatest Hits I've broadened my appropriations, and in my indulgence in this, these appropriations begin to become self-referential, like a musical greatest hits collection, these works sample not only other artist and pop culture, but also my own developing visual language.