Lina Scheyniusmariacarla (2008)

Remember how from the point you started to learn long division onward, your teachers were always admonishing you to show your work!?

Up to that point the right answer has been more than enough but increasingly how you arrived at the answer becomes just as if not more important.

Lina Scheynius–more than any other photographer I can think of–shows her work.

To illustrate what I mean let me draw your attention to this heart-warming story about Peyton Thomas and what happened when her mother took her to skateboard at a local skate park.

The eye which lights on the figures and compositions that Scheynius chooses demonstrates a curiosity–nervous and often fumbling but completely engaged. When she captures an image, Scheynius is surprisingly like the girl in this story–she wants to skate but the circumstances surrounding it and her lack of confidence are all obstacles.

As such her work often shows a almost careless whimsy with regards to composition. For example: the above image doesn’t logically break down into any sort of sensible geometric proof. It’s literally about the diagonal (top right to bottom left angle of the light, interplay between the pattern/color of the dress against the carpet. Like most of her work–the colors are muted and muddy in an effort to render light the central focus.

Further, to me it feels as if the instinct of the image maker is to present Mariacarla in context. Due to this instinct, the curtain fringe and whatever the dark object pushes in along the top, slightly right of center frame edge.

In the end, it’s these two likely circumstantial elements that unify the image. And here is where the eye that edits the resulting images is comparable to Ryan Carney in the story about the little girl and her skateboard. Lina as editor acknowledges the wonderment but applies a critical eye. The accidental embellishments serve as a means of rendering the wonder impetus the sparked the shutter triggering legible to a viewer.

There are scads of photographers whose work functions as a primer in how to read images. But Scheynius, in the way she reflexive makes photos inextricably tied up in her process, is trying to show us how to better see wonder in the world around us.

Ao Kim Ngân [aka yatender] – Untitled (2014)

A healthy human body can forgo eating for roughly a month and a half.

Dehydration will kill you in under a week–and this assumes a cool ambient temperature and minimal activity.

Hunger can be deferred; thirst commands an immediate response.

That’s the distinction that occurs to me browsing Ngân‘s work.

Her light fall series is obviously homage to Lina Scheynius’ preoccupation with documenting light. While the above is likely prefigured by Traci Matlock‘s mirror self-portraits.

Both Scheynius and Matlock are endlessly talented photographers. However, in a sense, in the realm of internet famous image makers, wearing such influences on one’s sleeve is potentially problematic.

That’s where Ngân distinguishes herself from thousands of other upstarts: her photos possess an unusual gravity. To get a feel for it, check out the stuff she’s shot of dancers in Ho Chi Minh City; not the way her single, static frames bristle with a sense of flowing, dynamic momentum.

Her personal work features less emphasis on momentum and more on stillness. In that way, it’s in line with Schneyius; however, unlike Schneyius there is a very profound sense that the stillness is in itself requires taxing concentration, is an exercise in willpower.

And this is where we get back to hunger vs. thirst. The work Ngân emulates is–in its sexual politics–interested in the overlap of representation and identity as a means of not only authorship but also as a relationship between the female gaze and the visualization of something not unlike hunger.

The lines between material and flesh in the image above, the delicate touch of the obscuring flowers here and the light on the knees, the position of hands and the texture of the dress and sheets here.

The subverted eroticism in the work is too intensely rendered, too pervasively interpenetrative to fit the framework of hunger. Even thirst seems entirely too willing to wait for fulfillment. This works walks a razor wire line of hope and frustration stretched between expectation and not fulfillment but forever expanding expectations.