Kristina Knipe’s Heartrending Portraits Of A Painful Struggle With Self-Harm

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In her recent series I Don’t Know The Names of Flowers, photographer Kristina Knipe examines her struggle with self-harm by documenting the marks and personal effects associated with the trials of others similarly suffering. Through the vulnerability of her subjects– some of whom she knew and others whom she found over Craigslist– the artist reveals a richly specific portrait of her own injury.

Inspired in part by the work of Alessandra Sanguinetti, Knipe situates her subjects within a decidedly natural world. Against a backdrop of wildflowers and floral patterned sofas, her portraits courageously reveal a tension between the beatific organic landscape and the angled, mechanical patterns of scarred and restitched flesh. The title of the work amplifies this sense of alienation, laying bare the tragically unfulfilled desire to connect with the simple purity of a budding rose.

Gently evoking poignant feelings of nostalgia and loss, this notion of innocence and corruptibility is explored further by Knipe’s expertly uncomfortable use of childlike imagery. In Andrew’s Dress, she presents a tiny article of clothing that for a grown man serves an unknowable purpose; as it wavers in the wind, viewers are forced to confront permanent blood stains. Similarly, a Raggedy Ann doll splays herself almost obscenely in a bed, revealing the words I Love You carved into her chest in red. For a particularly devastating image, Knipe shoots a page in a journal, revealing the terrifyingly pained visage of a girl scribbled in crude and childish lines.

Amidst this haunting sense of innocence lost, Knipe’s sprinkles her photographs generously with a dangerous sense of addictive ecstasy. Her photographs are decadent, richly colored and tonally mesmerizing. Scarred flesh is gleaming and sensual, and a beer can explodes orgiastically over a blissful subject. With relentless passion, Knipe invites viewers into a private world, colored by highs and lows that are equally difficult to navigate. (via Feature Shoot and Tischtography)

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