Texts by Julia Peirone, Michael Famighetti
Design by Sandra Praun
2012, English, hardcover
72 pages, 21 x 25 cm
In this age of networked images, identity is increasingly constituted by images, both self-generated and those produced by the media. We can experiment and play with our appearances, creating our own image of ourselves. The tradition of studio portrait photography, however, has almost always aimed to capture the sitter’s best self. In Julia Peirone’s images these two approaches intersect and collide. She shoots hundreds of frames, but eventually selects only the failed ones; those that would usually be discarded. She uses the studio environment and context to undermine the idea of the photogenic. Technically perfect, but imperfect as portraits in the traditional sense, there is no ‘essence’ of the subject in these images. They defy all conventions of how to conduct oneself before the camera. The viewer’s expectations about looking at younger female subjects are also challenged here. Geared up for a studio portrait, long haired and pale in their shimmering make up, the girls could be regarded as beautiful, but their supposed beauty eludes the viewer, and we are not allowed to get a good look at them. Their eyes are half-closed, their mouths half-opened, some are obviously chewing gum, indifferent yet aware of the viewer’s gaze. Paradoxically, therefore, these images are a perfect depiction of teenage girls, as being a teenager is already to exist in the in-between.