ARTIST STATEMENT FOR THE NUDE IN THE LANDSCAPE SERIES
“The Nude in the Landscape series is a body of work that frames the human figure in the natural environment of the Pacific Northwest, from its beaches and shorelines, to its river and streams, forests and mountainsides, encompassing every season, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Fall.
The black and white photographs juxtapose the delicacy and fragility of the female form against the scale and rugged grandeur of the landscape, contrasting the textures and tones between those two elements, and examining the relationship between the viewer and the subject.
The women portrayed in the series reflect a diverse range of ages, body types and ethnicities. Like the Landscape, the subjects illustrate many of the seasons in a woman’s life, Maiden, Mother and Crone.
Within the Nude in the Landscape oeuvre, three main themes or threads have emerged. Some of the images of the subjects are sculptural, others are unobserved, emotionally intimate portraits, and in many cases, the body seems to coalesce and merge with the landscape, making it difficult to determine where one element begins and the other ends.
None of the subjects in the series makes eye contact with the viewer. And many of the photos have an air of isolation about them.
Regardless of the thread that the subjects reflect in the tapestry that forms the series, there is an air of mystery to the subjects that is to me, as a man and the image maker, inherently feminine.
The subjects are both unknowable to me and unattainable. The image that I make is but a fleeting impression of what was reflected to me for the briefest of moments. A tiny instant, a fraction of time, is frozen and then, quickly, fleetingly, gone.”
LUCHA LIBRE ARTIST STATEMENT
Lucha libre is the term used for a style of wrestling in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries that literally means “free wrestling”. Before its evolution into the present-day highly ritualized professional sport, lucha libre was free-style amateur wrestling without restrictions – literally no rules. The male wrestlers are known as luchadores and female wrestlers, luchadoras and the sport has a long and rich history of flamboyance and hyperbolic performance.
Mexican wrestling is notably characterized by the wearing of highly distinctive, colourful masks, which have taken on an iconic, hyper-ritualized significance all their own. The mask becomes the identity of the wrestler who wears it. It IS their identity. Matches are sometimes contested in which the loser must permanently remove his mask in a highly symbolic metaphor for ritual death in the ring – once the mask is stripped away, the vanquished character ceases to exist.
Modern fashion is always on the look-out for new and fresh designers whose creations break all the old rules, flout convention, and push the envelope between haute couture (“high dress-making”) and Pret-a-Porter (“ready to wear”). Are the creations clothes, or art? Are they beautiful or ugly? Fashion models on the runway become the designers’ muses and are styled, painted and made-up until they are literally unrecognizable fashion luchadores. Fashion weeks are cultural carnivals where outrageousness is rewarded, extravagance applauded, and originality worshipped, where the greatest curse of all is to be mundane or, worse yet, deemed to be so “last year”.
Having made numerous trips to Mexico over the past three decades, I have always been fascinated by the lucha libre masks sold by street vendors and could rarely resist buying one or two per trip. Soon I had dozens.
As a writer, filmmaker and photographer, identity has always fascinated me. Perhaps it is no accident that in addition to the lucha libre disguises, I have collected numerous masks from many of the countries I have travelled to, each mask representing a unique aspect of the culture it represents.
Whether male or female, masculine or feminine, we all wear masks of identity. We choose educations, careers, friends and lovers, husbands and wives, neighborhoods, cars, tattoos, brands of Scotch, the shows we watch on television, and the sports teams we support; we choose between beer and wine, between vintage clothing and the latest designers, we choose hair cuts and make-up – all at a cost of thousands of dollars per year in our endless quest to define to the world who we are.
And the rest of us? We ruthlessly judge you by your mask in an instant. Is that mask real or phoney? Is it subtle or are you just trying too hard? Are you authentic or a fake? If I rip off your mask, who is underneath it? If it is the nature of the human condition that the first question we ask of ourselves is “Who am I?”. The second question is always “Who are you?”.
And my Luchadoras? I dare you to try to take off their masks.
ABOUT THE TATTOO PROJECT
The Tattoo Project: body. art. image.
The brainchild of photographer Vince Hemingson, The Tattoo Project, featured works by 11 fine art photographers with a variety of styles who shot portraits of over 100 heavily tattooed individuals. The event, which included a Gallery Exhibition of select images, sequestered models and photographers in Vancouver’s Photo Workshop for a multiple-day shoot that produced thousands of portraits that aimed to explore who each of the subjects was through their ink and the photographic process. In addition to a documentary film, the project resulted in a volume, published by Schiffer Books that features more than 200 images from the event and truly reflects not only who the subjects are, but who the photographers are as well. The Gallery shows a sample of Hemingson’s work from the book.
Click HERE to buy The Tattoo Project: body. art. image.
Artist Statement for the Tattoo Project
“This project was an idea that I had simmering on the back burner for nearly fifteen years. I have always wanted to to see how fine art photographers would interpret individuals who were tattooed. When I first saw Albert Watson’s seminal work from the Louisiana Prisons in his book, CYCLOPS it was an idea that wouldn’t go away. In my writing and filmmaking, I have always thought that the purpose of training your pen or your camera on a subject was illumination. Literally to shine a light on something. In fifteen years of researching the history and social significance of tattooing – in dozens of different cultures around the world – I was struck by the extraordinary power that tattoos can have to reveal a person’s inner self. Rarely is the choice of a tattoo or a tattoo symbol an accident. People choose tattoos that resonate with their sense of perceived identity of a deep level. I was quoted in an interview nearly ten years ago, saying that, “Beauty is skin deep, but a tattoo goes all the way to the bone”. And by that I meant that a tattoo can have profound meaning, far beyond mere decoration for many people. A tattoo reveals character. I wanted my photographs to be portraits, but I also wanted them to be about illuminating identity. I can focus my camera on an individual and capture some aspect of the external self. But I think their tattoo illuminates an aspect of their internal self, often times far more than they realize. The idea that you could capture parts of both the external self and the inner self fascinates me. I wanted to exhibit my images as transparencies on light-boxes because I wanted the tattoos I photographed to be illuminated from within. If the body is a temple, then the tattoos are stain-glass windows. Tattoos tell stories. I want my images to record those stories.”