There’s an air of both mundaneness and mystery in the series The Waiting Game by Spanish photographer Txema Salavans. The blown-out landscape images were collected over a period of six years, and the intriguing photographs don’t depict hitchhikers – they feature prostitutes. We see women sitting at rural roadside locations along Spain’s Mediterranean coast, including highways, secondary highways, and small byways between towns. Formally, they are not the focus of Txema’s composition. They appear from a distance and sit on the side of the photo’s frame as road signs, wilderness, and construction sites surround them. The routes seem desolate but are still well traveled, as drivers want to avoid having to pay for toll roads, as well as trucks carrying goods and fruit take them from Andalucia to France.
Salavans disguised himself knowing that these women probably wouldn’t want their photos taken in the first place. He wore a surveyor’s costume, complete with an assistant and a surveyor’s pole. The results offer an unconventional into the world of prostitution that takes it off city streets and to quiet moments. (Via Feature Shoot)
In the digital age and generation of the selfie, a spiraling and often disorienting importance placed on consumerism and commodities permeates even the most remote of regions. Through the billboard jungles and beehive of mass media, images relentlessly promoting youth and sexuality haphazardly depict ideals of femininity. Creating a wormhole of inadequacies, the female form has found itself in a constant tug-of-war in either defending its natural state or scrambling to correct propagated notions of aesthetic shortcomings. As Barbara Kruger famously stated on one of her notorious gelatin silver prints from the 1980’s, “You Are Not Yourself”.
With television game shows like Wipeout and American Ninja Warrior (and every slapstick movie, too), it’s no surprise that some of us derive pleasure from seeing people get hit. Photographer Sandro Giordoano’s twisted (both literally and figuratively) series In Extremis (bodies with no regret) capitalizes on the fall of others The staged images feature people comically posed in awkward and unflattering positions.
Always face down, the poor subjects are often garishly dressed and surrounded by their belongings. This is Giordano’s commentary on our attachments to our possessions; in every photograph, you’ll see the person clutching something like a watering can, oversized tennis ball, and even a power tool. To him, the characters in his compositions are oppressed by their appearance and the need to have things – and save them, even at their own expense. Their fall signifies that they hit rock bottom, and that they need to reexamine their life. (Via Laughing Squid)
Using narratives and visual genres found in art, combined with the clean aesthetics of design and contemporary product advertising, the work of Norah Stone is representative of a generation which has seen both art and design coexisting, flattened by the computer screen, and has no use for their separation. “The classic art vs. design question is something that comes up a lot in my daily life but I often find it to be a futile discussion, says the Minneapolis-based Stone, “I guess I just don’t think it’s important to set up boundaries just for the sake of boundaries.”
Norah Stone’s most-recent series, Artificial Utopias, creates thoroughly modern still life scenes, which despite their alluring hyppereal-quality (reminiscent of advertising and pictorial), the distinct sense of disconnect between these spotless digital worlds and our own is unsettling.
“In a culture where most of our daily routines and habits have been replaced by a digital screen, the scroll, the pixel, and the ability to retouch has ultimately changed our ideals of perfection….As I was working on this project I was thinking a lot about how growing up in the digital generation has subconsciously molded me to be attracted to a certain cleanliness that can only be achieved on screen. Artificial Utopias was a culmination of my own personal experience with the digital world and also the research I was doing on still lives. The super clean, almost surreal aesthetic came from trying to recreate the visceral experience that comes from staring at a screen for a long period of time.”
This play between perfection and illusion, the real and the empty, eventually manifested itself into twin video works as well. “In the video works (below) I was trying to recreate the process of eliminating imperfections through the clone stamp tool. In post production, I spent a lot of time retouching these photos to achieve the cleanliness of a stock photo. I wanted to capture the mundane process of retouching and erasing over and over again until you’re left with something completely different,” says Stone, who perhaps quite telling concludes, “or nothing at all.”
French photographer Florian Beaudenon’s series Instant Life invites the viewer to relish their voyeurism as we spy on people caught from above. The intimate photographs features a variety of women living their everyday lives; they fix a bike, eat on the couch, and write in a notebook. Although we’re invited into their homes, we never see their face.
If you love people watching and interiors, then Beaudenon’s photographs probably pique your interest. The compositions are zoomed in enough so we can admire the fine details of their dwellings. Collections of books, sex toys, and shoes are all featured in the wood-floored homes. It doesn’t matter that we can’t fully see what these people look like – we learn enough about them through just the items they own and how they organize where they live. (Via Fast Co. Design)
While visiting the town of Gulu in Northern Uganda, Italian photographer Martina Bacigalupo discovered a very unusual set of studio portraits. Despite being perfectly composed, none of them featured a subject’s face as they were all cut out leaving blank rectangles in the photograph. Oddly enough, it appeared to be a common practice in Gulu for taking ID photos.
Bacigalupo visited Uganda searching for ways to document this community, which was suffering from violent conflicts. The first faceless photograph she had stumbled upon lead her to meet Obal Denis, the owner of the oldest photography studio in town, the Gulu Real Art Studio (est. 1973).
“The portraits were well composed, with subjects seated on a chair or on a bench, with a blue, white or red curtain behind them, in various poses and modes of dress. Obal <…> told me the secret behind those pictures: he only had a machine that would make four ID photos at a time, and since most of his clients didn’t need four pictures, he therefore preferred to take an ordinary photograph and cut an ID photo out of it.”
For Bacigalupo, these ‘leftover’ images were the purest form of representation of Gulu’s society. She gathered the unused prints and interviewed clients of Obal’s studio. To most Ugandans, who suffered from more than two decades of war, taking new ID photos marked important changes in their lives: getting a driver’s license, starting a new job or applying for a loan. The value of such events is perfectly conveyed through the subject’s pose, gesture, clothing and other subtle details.
Dreamcatchers, cowboy hats, flannel shirts and nostalgia are all present in Theo Gosselin’s vagabondish journey through forgotten and mystical America. In 2012, this young photographer took a road trip from Harlem to Venice beach and truly captured the essence of free spirits running wild.
“My favorite subjects are the uninhibited young people who are my friends, photos taken from the inside, in the privacy of our travels together, our adventures, our evolution in this strange world. Love, friendships, and our appropriation of nature and the urban world. Young, free and immortal.”
Gosselin started his journey with two friends and used social networks to meet new people and find places to stay. According to him, it was an incredible experience on a human level as he got to meet very different people: from students to squatters and hippies.
Because of his untamable energy and carefree attitude which he brings to his work, Gosselin quickly became a true hit on Facebook with more than 80k followers. In the times of posing and retouching, Theo Gosselin’s photos stand out due to their purity, sincerity and capability to take viewers on board.
In his project “Scrublands”, French photographer Antoine Bruy pulls down the curtain on the mysterious back-to-the-land movement and its members. His series documents the lives of several communities who isolated themselves from the civilized world and have been living in the wilderness for more than 20 years now.
In 2010, Bruy embarked on a hitchhiking journey across Europe. With no specific destination in mind he wandered from one place to another hoping to find those secluded communities of people who abandoned their modern lifestyle, freed themselves from social constraints and chose to live in the wilderness. He would spend days and weeks together with them, helping in everyday chores and taking photographs of their daily routines.
Photographer notices that despite different locations and professional backgrounds (from philosophy teachers to engineers), these communities and their members are all linked to each other through handmade buildings and agriculture-based living. Bruy has plans to continue his project next year by exploring the United States. (via featureshoot)