Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Brittney Imwald-Mahar on Hellen Van Meene, Dayanita Singh, Alverez Bravo, Robert Adams

"Library Assignment"

Generally when I want to find inspiration I would much rather open an analog source; because for some reason there is an enlightenment and tangible satis
faction that does not compare to finding or stumbling upon it on the web. it's no wonder my excitement when coming across the images from a book titled "California". Fate? maybe...but it was the pure nostalgia and emotion that came into affect when I saw these first photographs.5. Redlands by Robert Adams from "california" series
40. Redlands by Robert Adams from "California" Series

Everything in the past and all of my work has been an attempt to create this emotion. These photographs are my home and I can't help but to feel incomplete when I look upon them. I feel as though this is my home town and wouldn't be surprised if it were. These black and whites photographs are calm and still...obviously taken in the desert towns like Palm
Springs :), Desert Hot Springs ect...there are cactus and wild weed like flowers and regal palm trees. The mountains and hills surround and protect; they've always reminded me of a geological cradle for the towns and cities. The Photograph of the flowery bush has a tight composition but it still feels open. The value and contrast scream tranquility and gray scale suits images of Californian desert towns. It's classic and simple just like how it feels to be home. The gray scale makes it feel natural and somewhat native American...i think that's why I automatically feel attached to this photograph. And even though I am from this place, I think it would still be appealing to me. or is it that since I am from this place I am naturally sympathetic and clingy to the images?I become instantly romantic and caught up. I believe there is a photographic language and these images definitely speak to me.

Another photograph I came across was found in a book of Polaroids. I fell
in love the moment I turned the page and found a Polaroid of a woman's back.
Polaroid of Manuel Alvarez Bravo
No Title Available

My first observations: beautiful freckles, warm and enticing skin, she's holding her hair up, she is deliberately showing "us", dark setting, looks romantic?, Secluded?, mixed color tones, most valuable in the skin, unusual Polaroid, taken from above...why? These observation
s leave me feeling mysterious and affectionate. Maybe it's the freckles that I love! But the color scheme (Polaroid) is just so attractive! The square format and overall look is familiar...it's a Polaroid!- automatically I am in agreement...possibly because it's generational and "sexy" appeal. But mainly, it's essentially a one of a kind; and captured so much better than most Polaroids floating around out in the world. The Polaroid is exceptional and there will never be a Polaroid to compare...it feels special and I don't even know the person. something about Polaroids and how beautifully this was taken is exciting to my eyes and for me, it's honestly her skin, the format and color palette. I remain amazed and in love with someone I'll never know. but is it the subject I love or the eye of the photographer?

Recently I am moved and inspired by portraiture and Hellen Van Meene is right up my alley. Meene's portraits of women are awing and beautiful but also very mysterious when first viewing them. In the image I chose from her book of Portraits, I see nothing but symb
olism and an analysis of becoming a woman. Besides pure curiosity on what is going on in the image, I am attracted to the formal and aesthetic qualities.
Untitled, 2001 By Hellen Van Meene from book of portraits

The observations I gather when first viewing this image is blue tones being lit by warm tones, a close personal but comfortable composition, square format, closed eyes which gives a feeling of a disconnect from the person, mysterious yet seemingly important jar of jam, natural light coming from a window, distressed and messy hair on the woman, ambiguous age and emotion...again with the eyes, an action is being done, the moment seems relaxed and quiet
but still some intensity, a plain and not distracting surrounding. I can't quite wrap my mind around why Meene chose to show the girl with her eyes closed...but my logic tells me she is taking in a moment that is personal and intense. But why the jar? After studying the image for a while I get a sense of sensitivity and bitter sweetness. Kind of like how becoming a woman can be...but then things get overwhelming and I find it difficult to put this feeling into words. How do you explain this emotion to a male? can you? Maybe I am just left confused in the end but I am attracted to the fact of doing an action to describe an emotional state; to be symbolic and leave the action for others to decide and I believe that is what Van Meene is doing here. A "new light" coming in to evolve her...to introduce her into something new and although it may be "messy" and unconventional, it will be a sweet and fresh moment.

Sumona Ghosh, Calcutta 1999 by Dayanita Singh from the book "Privacy"

I am dazed when I look at this image by Dayanita Singh and find it hard to begin to talk about it because I am still in amazement. I am connected and sharing a moment with this girl because her gaze is like a trap! Interesting as it may be, the things in the background, I can
not help but to stare at her first and foremost. Her surroundings are beautiful but she is truly timeless. MY observations: Obviously first I notice her and her wonderful eyes, outstanding and fluid value in gray scale, the framing looks very planned and carefully taken, the ever so popular and attractive square format, black and white image, carefully placed objects in the room, a room that does not seem to be for someone of her age, Indian wardrobe and the girl is dressed in a saari that seems to be for a nice or planned event...
She is so beautiful and not only because of her obvious appearance, but because her stare is elegant and older than she appears. It's like I am getting a wealth of information about her even though all she is doing is looking at me. I am obsessed and want to know more.

Shahnaz Hussain and Daughter, New Delhi 1992 by Dayanita Singh from Book "Privacy"

And The image above, also by Dayanita Singh, is like eye candy and I could not pass it up as well when flipping through the book. There are just things and and interest everywhere! My observations include: flowers, organic things, lots of hair, beauty, a captured friendly moment, personal living space?, lots of strange and collectible trinkets, is this an in home beauty parlor?, these two women must be related, loving touches.
I can't find what I want to focus on. I am intrigued by the wonderful objects that surround these two women but the relationship that seems to be shining through these two people are just as competing. The "mother's" hair is like its own photograph. The hair is so luxurious and kind of holds its own personality and I know that in the Indian culture, your hair can hold a lot of praise and meaning so maybe that is why it is so but otherwise she MUST pride herself on her hair. The image is feminine and informing of their life but it also encompasses so much more because there is a timeless interaction and I can't help but to want to be within the situation...maybe due to the fact I long for my mother and feel lost and sentimental all at once. Wonderful image....period.

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