Robert Mapplethorpe - Brian Ridley and Lyle Heeter, 1979. Photograph on paper
Humour is not something that we tend to associate with Mapplethorpe’s work, but this double portrait certainly has it. Unusually, Mapplethorpe has chosen to photograph these two men not in a neutral setting but in a cluttered environment of questionable taste. The implication is that this is where the men live. They are dressed in full black leather gear and the submissive seated partner is chained up and shackled to the bearded standing figure. The sado-masochistic ritual that is being enacted contrasts totally with the homey living room. The only pointer to darker currents is the table to the right made of deer antlers.
Rineke Dijkstra - From the series ‘Beach Portraits’, 1992-2002.
In her most famous series, Beach Portraits (1992-2002), juveniles stare at the camera in a moment passif, caught by the camera between states – youth / adulthood, knowing / unknowing, Self / Other. Shot from a low perspective, lit by fill flash and with little contextual detail, the subjects exhibit – and I use the term advisedly – vulnerability, awkwardness (in the body and self), languidness of pose and bravuro self confidence that belies their beautiful alterity. These adolescents are not at one with themselves they are unsure of their place in the world. Dijkstra documents this uncertainty and enlarges it, blowing the photographs up to huge scale so that the viewer can examine every crevice of the persona in minute detail, their alterity visually represented.
Sexuality, anonymity, and the crowd are some of the themes in Bill Henson’s lush, brooding photographs. The naked or partially clothed teenage body has been a primary subject of Henson’s work since the early 1980s, when he first began asking young men and women to pose in the nude for his photographs. Henson consistently portrayed his adolescent subjects in the obscurity of dark settings, which served to maintain their anonymity. Depicted alone, paired off into couples, or traveling in packs, the young men and women are dimly perceived as they lounge, drink, have sex, and otherwise indulge the escapist tendencies of bored, disaffected youth. In the 1983-84 “Untitled” series, he made moody, almost sorrowful images of drug-addicted and runaway teens and then displayed them in diptychs and triptychs with equally atmospheric photographs of architectural details from Baroque places, the empty galleries of European museums, and Old Master Paintings.
Shizuka Yokomizo - From the series ‘Stranger’, 1998.
My motivation for Stranger came from running around London in a car with a ridiculously huge telephoto lens, trying to glimpse unsuspecting people through the windows of their flats. I felt absurd and increasingly frustrated by the one-sidedness of the activity. Aside from the ethics of what I was doing, it was important for me that the subject, a stranger, made eye contact with me while I was photographing. I realised that I needed these people to look back and recognise me equally as a stranger. So I decided to use the format of a simple anonymous letter, which contained the possibility of agreement and time to contemplate taking part (as compared with the speed of a more opportunistic photography), but also maintained the distance (perhaps suspicion) that is part of being strangers.