Monday, January 14, 2008

double life and the space between

i'm sure it comes as no surprise that i love love love the work of Kelli Connell. Connell scans and combines multiple (medium format) images of the same model in Photoshop to show moments in the relationship between two people. to me, the resulting images feel like short stories. the fact that both characters are played by the same model make them instantly recognizable as fiction (a fiction that feels very true to life), and makes reading the interactions between the characters that much more interesting. the constructed realities they present offer the viewer many questions...

Connell describes her ongoing project as "an autobiographical questioning of sexuality and gender roles that shape the identity of the self in intimate relationships. Polarities such as the masculine and feminine psyche, the irrational and rational self, the exterior and interior self, and the motivated and resigned self are portrayed." all this talk of polarities and the self makes me think of the Jungian archetype of The Syzygy: two entities, masculine and feminine, combined to form an archetypal whole without losing their own identities. Connell's couples portray the paradox of this idea of subjecitivity so vividly.

one thing i find fascinating about her work is how frequently people assume that the model is Connell herself (she isn't--i'm not sure who the model is, but she's pretty amazing). i made the same mistake when i first saw them. i wonder, would that assumption happen to any photographer who exclusively photographed one person...or is it something particular to the intimacy or the visible queerness of the project ? (or something else?) obviously her work raises a lot of questions and challenges assumptions. as she says, "I am interested in not only what the subject matter says about myself, but also what the viewers response to these images says about their own identities and social constructs."

Kelli Connell's monograph is called Double Life. the images above are "The Space Between," "Pregnancy Test," and "Reverie."

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