Firstly, I just want to acknowledge how cool it would be to have ‘art’ somewhere in my name. Lucky for Stephen, not so lucky for me. Stephen SwARTz is an analogue photographer who studied the craft well before digital was around. His work dates from the late 90s to the present but most of his work carries this 90s energy. I would put this down to the look of the women Stephen uses in his work, although I’m sure the analogue technique plays a part. It is pretty rare these days, with my beloved Ellen Rogers being the main contemporary analogue photographer I am aware of. I have chosen a selection of images from Stephen’s portfolio that appeal to me the most but I would recommend taking a look yourself to fully absorb yourself in his intent. Soft female forms are juxtaposed with geometric architecture to comment on the contrast between organic figures and structured forms and, on a deeper level, intuition and rationale. Stephen uses female figures to express his own feelings as a man, allowing him to explore his own emotional state – something he notes men often try to push down. It is important to respect the skill and patience it takes to work as an analogue photographer, especially in the age where digital technology runs rampant. I’m not one to talk, being a digital artist myself after all. I suppose at the end of the day, the most important thing is to simply acknowledge and respect art, both as the end form, as well as the techniques used to get there. I hope you enjoy these striking photographs. I just adore the first image and find some connections to William Mortensen’s work in a few of the others. Delightful.
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Twins. I feel like it’s impossible to escape the idea of female doubleness (or twins as I prefer to label it) in art. So many times I find pieces that show two women and paint them as opposites, black and white, good and bad. I’m not too sure if artists always intend or desire to show the good / bad dichotomy, but I struggle to separate it. Not that it’s a bad thing necessarily, I just wonder why it’s so omnipresent.
I’ll start with a photo of actual twins from the famous and controversial Diane Arbus. The Roselle twins
In this instance, Arbus has taken the subject matter of identical twins and associated it with something ‘freakish’. Anyone familiar with Arbus’ work will know that it’s pretty much all about freaks. And while these twins are by no means freaks (there is nothing abnormal about their size, skin, body etc.) the way she has photographed them (and just by association with her name) does add this dimension. There is no colour difference to emphasize the good / bad dichotomy, but their expressions certainly suggest this. On the left is the ‘evil’ one and the right the ‘good’ one. I quite love the expression on the left though (I wonder what that says about me?).
Another image I found is by Cassandra Rhodin
More of a fashion illustration, the black / white contrast is pretty obvious in the hair and lips. However, I like that this is pretty much the only thing that differentiates them. Thus, not fulfilling the good / bad idea so strongly. Only through our existing notions of white being good and black being bad would we draw conclusions on the nature of these two women.
And finally, a piece by Glenn Arthur
Really interesting work (I love all his work). There is certainly contrast between the two women in the good / bad way. The blonde woman is clearly positioned as the good one, the victim even. While the dark-haired woman seems obviously malicious, especially in the way she is holding the necklace. I’m sure there is heaps of symbolism and meaning in this piece, and I would love to hear more about it. But, it definitely fits within the twin / female doubleness art that I see so often.