Lina Scheynius’ photographs are above all sincere in their straight-forward simplicity and lack of self-conscious pretense—capturing not only the truth of a moment but something of the initial wonderment which sparked her mind and brought the viewfinder to her eye.
Like many young, internet-famous image makers she works at the interstices of documentary, editorial and erotic photography but her handles the material with a rare prescience.
Take this self-portrait where she appears starkly naked but protectively curled up on a leather couch. She is both seen and unseen.
I cannot help but apply that to her sense of herself as a photographer. She presents the world she sees from behind and through her camera. This is especially interesting given familiarity with her larger body of work as she takes great pains to push her personal boundaries more than her models.
In the minefield resulting from conceptual concerns over the visual representation of sexual identity and body politics, although what Scheynius’ is about is perhaps more instinctive than the collaboration between Traci Matlock and Ashley MacLean, it is no less vital or interesting.
And frankly, there are a lot of photographers who could learn something from this. I am sick unto death with voyeurs hiding behind cameras snapping away as they have models enact their most deeply repressed fantasies. (I am thinking here of an individual who I would rather not name but will give apply the psuedonym Reynard Yale.)
Is it me or is there something almost post-coital about the way this feels to the eye—towel-wrapped, shower-wet hair and still damp skin sheathed in afterglow and diaphanous light?
In spite of being digital, I wish this were an image I had made. It exemplifies so many imagistic attributes I hold dear:·
- It eschews the forced intimacy of knee-jerk close-ups
- Employs a scale fixed somewhere betwixt Wall’s voyeuristic medium shots and Angelopoulos’ telescopic long shots in order to offer the viewer a wealth of contextual information.
- A visually compelling interior is presented so as to avoid the trappings of perfect production design. (Tarkovsky is as close to having a deity as I come, but I’m perpetually frustrated by his über-eclectic, pristinely cluttered sets with no room for real people to live)
- It features a beautiful young nude woman with exquisite, tiny breasts and pubic hair.
All that is missing is a narrative seed, one moment suggesting what came before and what follows. But this is more of a tone poem, it would seem.
Tone poems, though, are slippery as eel skin. And there is a tendency to use them as an excuse for untouched inconsistencies.
For example, the framing here pans the camera slightly right to ensure the golden light on her back appears reflected in the mirror; this wawker-jawing complicated by the extreme wide angle is nearly balanced out by the uneven curtain rod’s counter-angle—keyword: nearly.
Also, her pose is odd. It is clearly staged but she holds it in such an unself-conscious way that it from avoids appearing contrived.
These inconsistencies cut both ways: justifying the unresolved aspects as endemic to the work is what makes it great; it is also what keeps it from being truly exceptional due to such justification obfuscating the implicit awareness the image provides of viewing something up to a terminal point—the snapping of the shutter—and then being left with little except the technical inconsistencies to ponder for clues that simply don’t exist.
390. by Nicolas Sisto
The first thing I see, the thing that reaches out and smacks the shit out of me is the light. Fucking A.
Next and simultaneously, I notice the color of the tile and the way the light diffuses on her skin, in her hair—the way it suffuse the blue tiles and tub.
This is the sort of light photographers kill for, a distinct cousin to the magical cinematography in Malick films.
Further it’s analog, a real photograph—any detail in the highlight with such bright white hot spots would be DOA in digital. And the photographer is clearly trying to emulate the tenebrist contrast range and vivid colors of Polaroid’s late 90’s palate.
Also, in the images favor is its inclusion of two quintessential photographic tropes: nudity and miraculous light.
Still, even though I want to like this, I can’t; the light alone isn’t enough. There are two glaring flaws:
First, who sits this way in an empty bathtub? I mean honestly. It’s overly self-conscious and awkward. Look at how gorgeous I am just plopped down here in this pool of perfect light… ladiladidah.
Interestingly, there’s an outtake from this same sequence. In it some of the light’s grandeur gets lost, the pose is at least less self-conscious and therefore less contrived.
Yet, in both case the composition is fucked. You see it a lot—envisioning a strictly balanced and symmetrical shot within the frame and shooting hand held. That saying close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades goes triple for symmetrical images. Either keep the hand held camera and accentuate the asymmetry or use a motherfucking tripod.
I am posting this photo along with the link to its sibling not to bash either so much as point out that somewhere between them is an image I wanted to see in both but didn’t. The hint of what might have been but never was is pretty incredible to me.
Groupo Sitcom – Cactus 2012
I have no idea whether this is a print—though the bent edges look a bit too thick; or, if it is some type of instant film with which I am not familiar.
Either way I like it a lot. It handles bright sunlight in a fashion similar to Polaroid’s discontinued Spectra 990 instant film with a little bit more latitude for underexposure.
The manner in which the image is composed is sublime. The swath of golden light draws the eye from top left across and down the frame to the bottom right. There is a balance between positive space (skin) and negative space (the more underexposed parts of the frame).
Note: how the hand—you really have to look to see it—in the upper right balances the sliver of cushion or whatever in the lower left corner.
I normally do not like close ups. But this close up provides just enough context to determine that the subject is in a room, presumably seated in a chair with a potted cactus shading her mons pubis—and what a beautiful but scant shadow it casts on her skin—if you look close enough you can see its texture.
The cactus is a loaded, ambivalent symbol—needing careful tending, not too much or too little irrigation. They are also spiny, dangerously self-protective.
But while the cactus is certainly hers it is separated from her by a clay pot. As such it could represent something that from one angle seems a threat to her tender areas but when the light translates its form to shadow; its threat appears diminished—a little beautiful even.
This strikes me as a carefully constructed scene suggestive of a male and female perspective. It is explicit while simultaneously remaining completely aloof.