Mercedes EsquivelSarah Vōx (201X)

At first glance, there was some thing about this image that flustered me–not flustered as in frustrated, more unconventional; as in the way the profound is often masked by it’s commonplace-ness.

It’s been saved as a draft for several months now. I keep  traipsing back to it, spending an hour hear and there trying (and ultimately failing) to give expression to an inarticulate gut reaction.

As with so much of my intellectual life, I have this tendency to believe only that which is so difficult as to be functionally impossible has merit. It’s a mentality that in the absence of intellectual heavy lifting, creates unnecessary work.

But that’s super abstract. Let’s keep it concrete and focus on this image: from square fucking one this image has been about the effortless, lack of contrivance to the pose. It is as if posing for an image were to be separated into a continuum of 1. ) preparing to pose, 2.) the mindful tension of holding the pose and 3.) the subsequent dissolution of mindful tension, then this image would represent the moment after 3 but also before 1.

This fit with my limited familiarity with Esquivel’s work; thus, most of my initial efforts to explain my reaction centered on the notion of pose. The trouble is that when you’re looking for something so specific, there is a tendency to miss the forest for the trees. By focusing on pose, I drunkenly lopped down long dark alleys of considering odd framing decisions; and instead of taking a step back, trying to justify my initial theory by suggest that kind of like counterpoint in musical compositions, the frame was an effort to highlight poses intended to exemplify the Golden Ratio.

However, after spending some time with Esquivel’s work, I’m realizing that there just isn’t that consistency in her use of pose. For as natural as the above is, her work is also rich with unnatural, highly stylized poses. In fact, her use of scale and angle of view differ enormously over her body of work. That which remains consistent is how she frames things.

And the framing is extremely interesting; it features an internal logic–while not immune to #skinnyframebullshit, she mostly avoids it–as well as an external consistency across her work. Moreover, there is a sense less of an image maker creating an image and more that the work exists as an exercise in assisted self-portraiture.If you spend any time with the images, there is a feeling that the impetus for the frame being what it is has more to do with it being something the image maker might have set up a tripod and posed for the picture herself without access to willing models.

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