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Sleeping, dead, alone
September 29, 2008 12:38 PM   Subscribe

Elizabeth Heyert struggles to remove the photographer from portraiture, moving contra Richard Avedon. Three series: Sleepers (interview), Travelers (interview), Narcissists [NSFWish] (essay).
posted by klangklangston (25 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
via Guilt and Pleasure magazine.
posted by klangklangston at 12:39 PM on September 29, 2008


At least one of these links requires a NSFW...
posted by jokeefe at 12:46 PM on September 29, 2008


I prefer the first set (Sleepers)
posted by chuckdarwin at 12:48 PM on September 29, 2008


Sleepers = Pompeii = "I have no idea how these people got wedged into their scanners, or why. "
posted by pracowity at 12:51 PM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


At least one of these links requires a NSFW...

I honestly didn't even think of it. It's got some art nudes, no sex, and a fairly sophisticated presentation. On top of that, it's perfectly safe at my work.

It's not like I linked to Last Night's Party (NSFW).

So, please, any other folks who wanna talk about NSFW, take me to MeTa.
posted by klangklangston at 12:54 PM on September 29, 2008


And I kinda prefer the second set, The Travelers, for being such an odd portrait of burial rites. I like the little touches, like the cash in the guy's pocket, and the very reserved lighting. It reminds me of memento mori.
posted by klangklangston at 12:57 PM on September 29, 2008


I didn't mean any offence, klang, it was just a comment aimed at people who might click on the "Narcissist" link, as I did, in full view of my office mate. Not that she minds, fortunately, but others might.

I think it's an interesting site, btw.
posted by jokeefe at 12:57 PM on September 29, 2008


They don't approve of nudity here, where I work either, but screw 'em! Travelers kinda freeked me out until I realized they were actually dead and not "posing".
posted by snsranch at 1:06 PM on September 29, 2008


I agree with jokeefe - NSFW is not about taste in art or a lack of sex. It's about what people don't want to be caught looking at while at work. We've had this discussion hundreds of times now. Nudes are not work safe.
posted by Lizc at 1:12 PM on September 29, 2008


[Threw a NSFW up on the Narcissists set—full-on front-and-center nudity on click one without warning is probably not a great idea, however much I agree with you on some of the principle, klang. Let us speak no more of it here, etc.]
posted by cortex at 1:14 PM on September 29, 2008


Did we slashdot her? I'm got getting any photos to load. Huh.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:39 PM on September 29, 2008


Check your flashblock. They're there for me.
posted by klangklangston at 1:45 PM on September 29, 2008


Fucking awesome photography. I want to be like her when I grow up.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:45 PM on September 29, 2008


Well! Can I say how much I appreciate an artist that can express her methodology this well? It's totally a fan-making quality for me. Inaccessibility is just so unappealing. Ha, funny that the essay for The Narcissists isn't in first person.

The Narcissists is totally engrossing to me, and there's an uncanny achievement of a fashion photography aesthetic, but it's coming through the eyes, not simply the costume choices. I never considered that fashion photography, and the model performances therein, might seek to display a mirror to the viewer/consumer, and I wonder what kind of chcken/egg relationship that really is. In concert with the other two projects, what a strange sort of agency this one depicts.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:04 PM on September 29, 2008


this is really really good.
posted by shmegegge at 2:07 PM on September 29, 2008


AV: Yeah, I noticed that. The mag that I saw her in didn't have all that much text as an intro, it was mostly just these, well, bodies, and a little bit of her talking about having to move a sheet camera into position in a huge hurry. I think she's really aided by the depth of information about her process, especially as (since this is on a computer screen), we're going to miss the actual depth of the images. They look nice here, but I guarantee they look much better at a gallery size. (I really hope she makes it out to the West Coast sometime.)

I do think the absence of audience gives the Narcissists a charming awkwardness, that lack of communication between model and photographer. And she does an excellent job in selecting subjects, though I don't think that they're all universally strong.
posted by klangklangston at 2:26 PM on September 29, 2008


I also like that she is one of the few photographers who I have seen who manages to play with detachment and irony without contempt. There's a real affection in all of these images, even as she brings the self-consciousness and awkwardness out. It's quite different from, say, Diane Arbus, who even though she did genuinely root for the folks she photographed, there's always that streak of cruelty that seems ready to come out.
posted by klangklangston at 2:32 PM on September 29, 2008


Great photos, and a non-annoying portfolio (non-moving navigation! chx)
posted by tmcw at 2:46 PM on September 29, 2008


Travelers kinda freeked me out until I realized they were actually dead and not "posing". -snsranch


Funny. I assumed they were people posing until I realized they were actually dead and then I was kind of bothered. Recently, going through old family photographs I came across a photograph of a child in a coffin. For me, the photograph had a more emotional pull than the ones under "Travelers" because it wasn't a photograph taken by a stranger as part of a series of photographs. And while the photographer admitted to being saddened (for example, the young man), I doubt her emotion could probably match that parent or family member who took their camera to the child's coffin to take that one last picture of a loved one. They took the very last opportunity available to them to take a picture to last forever, the action of someone who wasn't ready to let go. I feel less creeped out by that type of photograph, than those in the series linked.
posted by Atreides at 3:15 PM on September 29, 2008


To her apparent surprise, most people showed little signs of self-love or overt narcissism. Instead, people often drifted into a meditative state that bordered on melancholy. Occasionally people cried. Sometimes, unprompted by Heyert, they undressed. Expressions changed from clownish to wary to wounded to confrontational in a matter of moments. Rarely, but sometimes, there were no easily discernible changes in expression for the entire 15 minutes. According to Heyert all the portraits seemed to emerge from the inner depths of each individual, with little similarity between the person she spoke to before the session and the personality she photographed through the mirror.
Um. What?
posted by odinsdream at 5:42 PM on September 29, 2008


She really likes to crank that contrast up, no?
posted by Sukiari at 7:58 PM on September 29, 2008


And while the photographer admitted to being saddened (for example, the young man), I doubt her emotion could probably match that parent or family member who took their camera to the child's coffin to take that one last picture of a loved one. They took the very last opportunity available to them to take a picture to last forever, the action of someone who wasn't ready to let go.

Nowadays, you see people standing over the casket with their cell-phone, trying to compose that justperfect arm-length shot. To me, that's sad on several levels.
posted by ColdChef at 6:34 AM on September 30, 2008


Cellphone pics are the new wallet photos. I have a couple pretty sentimental ones on my phone.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:04 PM on September 30, 2008


I also like that she is one of the few photographers who I have seen who manages to play with detachment and irony without contempt. There's a real affection in all of these images, even as she brings the self-consciousness and awkwardness out. It's quite different from, say, Diane Arbus, who even though she did genuinely root for the folks she photographed, there's always that streak of cruelty that seems ready to come out.
Arbus talked about capturing the flaw, the thing we try to hold back from the camera. Bathes called it "remaking ourselves in the pose." I do think Arbus sometimes used the camera both as a weapon and as a tool of affection, but she also developed strong relationships with her models in most cases. I don't get the same sense of photographer/model relationship in these images, but i do agree that they avoid the aggression that Arbus was capable of portraying.
posted by holgagirl at 8:51 AM on October 6, 2008


Barthes called it "remaking ourselves in the pose."
posted by holgagirl at 8:52 AM on October 6, 2008


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