Saturday, April 28, 2007

Portaits: IN studio and AS performance

I just came across this interesting work via the super-in-depth photo blog site I *heart* photograph, which I visit quite often. The mostly-anonymous Laurel (many wonder, but here is her identity here and here) posts a new photographer and photograph almost every day - and many are new to me. (I wonder where and for how long she scours the internet?!)

I *heart* photograph shared this work by Nora Herting. For the series "Free Sitting," she got a job in a department store portrait studio. She explains that by breaking the rules of the studio portrait, she changes their status as social symbols. The jury is still out on her written conclusions - I like them more for her "hacking" of this genre and her mining of the layout of the commercial portrait printout. The visual design and patterning of the gestures, colors, and gazes, for me, is their strongest suit. I especially like the layouts that include "outtakes," images that the customer would not have selected.

Herting also produced a "studio performance" installation/audio piece on the same idea. Here is what she says about this work (click on the word here to hear it, I had to do it several times):

As my employment as a trade photographer wore on, I became fearless and obsessed. I made hidden microphones embedded in Santa Clause pins and flower broaches. I was striving for covert ways to reveal the odd dynamics and labored performances required to make these mundane photographs. Audio of photographic sitting between a family of four and myself was collected by hidden microphone.

The middle part of the audio is a bit too layered and jumbled for me; I'd love to hear more from more than one family and mixed up with more variety in the endlessly repeated phrases. BUT - I love this idea and it would make a great installation in a gallery.

Visual Studies Workshop did an exhibition on photographic backdrops a while back. Does anyone know what it was called and if it had a catalogue? I'd love to get my hands on one. Update: I just found an essay from Afterimage on the show.

Credit: Nora Herting, Wanted, 44 x 65 inches and Nora Herting, 29' x 12' Photographic Background. Sensor. Audio. Dimensions variable. From


Greg Cook said...

Hi, Leslie,
Do you know if Herting got permission from her subjects to use their portraits? I’m curious about the legal and ethical issues here. What does it mean that artists are sneaking around secretly recording conversations? Her photo reproduced here is cool – and I’ve not followed all the links – but it seems like there’s some sort of creepy antisocial invasion of privacy going on here. And this seems to be part of a trend in the art world. Is it okay?

LKB said...

Good point - I don't know, she doesn't does have that quality. It definitely would be an issue. I have a feeling she sought it after the fact.

Work that makes me feel creepy or uncomfortable often makes me ponder it more - it is making me feel and thus is working on some level. Such work often sticks with me longer, good or bad, which is better than indifference.

LKB said...

An entry on "creepy" art might be in