Marit Beer – [↖] woodchild III (2013); [↑] Title unknown (2013); [↗] \ (2014); [←] wald (2013); [+] woodchild IV (2013); [→] Title Unknown (2013); [↙] wald (2013); [] woodchild (2013); [↘] wald (2013)

Goddamn but if Beer’s work isn’t just breathtakingly fucking fantastic (and illustrative of the point that if you’re interested in making B&W images, you absolutely have no business whatsoever doing so digitally).

I’m especially enamored with these photos because although you can explore the far ranging influence of Francesca Woodman on them, what they showed me almost immediately is what I loathe about Laura Makabresku’s work–namely the loose consensus on the purpose that dreams serve is that they process or digest the surfeit of stimulus our minds absorb. Both Beer and Makabresku are interested in oneric scenes. Yet whereas Makabresku emphasizes the contrivance of her mise-en-scene with diptychs and animals, Beer improvises using readily available materials.

By contrast, the emotive response Makabresku seeks to elicit from her audience never escapes the fact that it’s call and response transaction-ness; Beer’s photos are closer to open ended questions.

In other words, there’s a presentation of all the authentic elements of a nightmarish fever dream. But it’s a surrealism that requires imagination arising from sustained energy and engagement. Makabresku wants merely to run up and kick the viewer in the shins before running off to gloat at her ability to make the audience feel something.

Beer’s work is excellent all around and IMHO you’d do well to check it out.



Fox Photo-ArtGlass Olive [from the Voyeurism Series] (2013)

Initially, I see the stone wall and sapling filtered, dappled light. All of it pulls up a step or two short of full blown flashback to strolling around Fort Tryon Park on a summer afternoon.

This feeling motivated me to look into Fox Photo-Art.

Le sigh. What is it with image makers bearing vulpine monikers and their privileged insistence upon producing self-important, creatively stunted dreck and deeming it ‘art’?

Usually, this attitude causes me to dismiss the work in totality; however, it somehow increases my appreciation of the above image even if there’s nothing especially inspired about it.

Yeah, the composition is solid: the angle of the ledge leads the eye to Glass Olive; her body is situated parallel to the focal plane so her legs can remain open toward the camera.

Unlike the more natural, obviously comfortable positioning of her legs, her upper body is rigidly posed in order to facilitate reflection of light from the bright white pages of Margot Mifflin’s Bodies of Subversion onto her face.

To my eye there’s a startlingly nuanced yet fraught conceptualization at work here: using Ms. Olive’s face to establish a counterpoint to the focus on her pubic area.

Glossing over the implications with regard to matters of heteronormative gaze and sexualization/objectification of female bodies, this strategy somewhat succeeds. Although, it should be pointed out this counterpoint unbalances the image; and only works due to the dimensionality contributed by the angle of Ms. Olive’s legs balanced against the essentially decorative negative space occupying the left third of the frame.

I am almost always appreciative of clever framing. But what fascinates me here is the degree to which the subject remains completely indifferent to being seen in spite of all the visual cues pointing to the precision with which the scene has been staged. The most obvious being that no matter how much you fidget, wiggle or kick, even given the audacity of sitting in such a way in a dress sans undergarments, dresses only fall like this as a result of being carefully arranged.

It’s like the Fox Photo-Art can’t decide whether he’s dealing in conventions of public nudity or upskirt shots.

Speaking of the latter: recently, I’ve seen some commendable efforts (like this) to recast an otherwise exploitative genre in a more consent-driven, body positive/sex positive manner.