Svetlana Jovanovic is a Netherlands-based photographer who imbues portraiture with a surreal edge. Drawing on her experience studying psychology at Belgrade University, Jovanovic knows how to access the models’ personalities, and by extension, the viewers’ psyches; women—often dressed in white and washed-out pastel hues—confront the camera with an otherworldly presence, embodying both deep alienation and sublime euphoria. Like images from a haze-filled dream, some of them look vaguely threatening, with horns, multiple tongues, and masks accentuating their otherwise calm postures. Model selection, set design, props, and digital image manipulation play an important role in the way the artist composes her scenes.
Also key to Jovanovic’s impressive style is a subtle exploration of gender, sexuality, and media representation—subjects that are important and highly politicized in her field of work. She does not portray femininity in conventional nor overtly sexualized ways; as her artist’s statement eloquently states, “Although slight stylization and eroticism might at first glance suggest analogies with fashion photography, Jovanovic stays well away from it. Instead, her work can be interpreted as the intention to develop a conceptual approach to photography by exploiting some conventions of fashion photography, examining its potential to visually shape an idea or subject matter” (Source). Instead of complacency, the unease and ambiguity that surrounds Jovanovic’s photos encourages the viewer to recognize on their own objectifying practices and expectations of the female body in fashion and photography.