Simulacra is an exhibition exploring the beauty of the body, and working with the issue of real and reflection; in this case, the real was far less interesting, in some ways, than the reflection for all its flaws.
Created from images made in a photographic studio, with models placed upon mirrors, the exhibition is my first solo exhibition, and also my first exhibition at ViewPoint Gallery.
This was the first image in the Simulacra series. Kim and I were in the studio, but had run out of ideas. I asked her if she had any thoughts, and she said “What about working with the mirror, like you did with Victoria?” (referring to the self-portrait I’d made a couple of months before). Within minutes of setting up the lights and picking up the camera, I was working with an enthusiasm I can never remember having before in the studio.
6x6 cm film
6x6 cm film
Another image from the first sessions with Kim on the mirror, this image became the hero image of the show, featured on the advertising and show catalog. I love the powerful flow of Kim’s hip, and the shadowed line in the small of her back, perfected and countered by the reflection below.
This image draws as much from the marks on the mirror as it does from the pose or reflection. At the exhibition, several people asked how I managed to capture the smoke!
Until this session, all my images of models on the mirror were made with hand-held cameras, either 35mm or 120. With Zoë, however, I decided to try my 4"x5”, and was pleasantly pleased with the results. Even though it was her first time modeling, she had an incredible level of patience, and was flawless at holding a pose while I set up the camera and finalized the composition.
The way Layla’s hair melds with the mirror just makes this image - it is absolutely impossible to distinguish between the real hair and the reflection.
With the images on the mirror (eventually the focus of the exhibition Simulacra), the idea of “up” and “down” was quickly eroded, leading to images that just “were”. In this case, the lines of the model’s reflections were far more important than displaying the image the “right way”.
The images I did with Claire were among the last to be added to the Simulacra exhibition; while Claire and I had worked together numerous times outdoors, it was only in September that we ventured into the studio and made some images there.
When I work in the studio, with or without the mirror, negative space (black areas) play a major role. With this image, Layla’s legs were twisted over, giving them a long, flowing line which I could take advantage of with the narrow aspect ratio of the 35mm negative.
The ability to contort and distort perspective was one of the most enjoyable elements of the mirror nudes - with this image, I lucked out with Billie’s torso and Joe’s back matching identically in tonality - the blend between them is almost invisible.
Working with a couple upon the mirror, rather than proving to be too complex, was actually really even more dynamic - in addition to working with the repetition of the mirror, I could have the model’s poses play with mirroring and the flow of lines. The results, while a little involved to create, really exploit the possibilities.
One challenge with the mirror was making images from farther back - the mirror was too small to permit this most of the time. With Billie and Joe, however, because I could fill much of the frame with their “real” bodies, I could frame a little looser, and get a more holistic image of their bodies - in this case the embrace of Billie by Joe in reality is mirrored by the reflected touch of her hand on his head, giving a strong visual (and emotional) flow to the image.