That face. What face? Let’s face it: in one way or another, Toronto-based photographer Robyn Cumming‘s daunting series, “Lady Things” has you wondering. I checked her out – her photography uplifts me since the shots are clean, light and airy. I looked at her portrayal of the human condition through her lens, which would qualify her as a female Grimm, poking fun of how serious we may take ourselves at times.
She has the guts to use objects with subjects…and on subjects…and turns subjects into objects. I like this chick. Dark Comedy, anyone? Peep the series and a few good reasons behind her work from an interview conducted by Magenta Magazine. Who’s your favorite portrait BABE?
“Unfortunately, I don’t have a romantic story about inheriting an old Rolleiflex from my grandfather when I was 13. But, I did have a pretty amazing photography teacher, Mr. Ainslie, in high school. He would always repeat this Ren & Stimpy quote from the episode where they’re in a tent on another planet. There is a knock, and Ren tells Stimpy to “go answer de flap”. Every time there was a knock at the classroom door, Mr. Ainslie would say “go answer de flap”.”
“Once, a woman purchased a piece only to tell me she had to hide it under her bed because she perceived its content as terrifying. She actually discussed it with her therapist, who decided she should use it as a sort of therapeutic device. Every morning she would stare at it and make peace with the subject matter. There is a strangeness to how my work is experienced by viewers. They are often simultaneously seduced and repelled.”
“About a year ago, I was watching a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode with friends. At one point during the episode, I asked a question that indicated I was not really visually differentiating between the various men in the show very well. They seemed like the same person to me. I realized that I tend to experience people in fragments. This has proved an ongoing issue with recognizing people I have met, or even recalling what a person actually looks like. I tend to only look at individual features intently, rather than focusing on the body or the face as whole. Weird, I know. My friends thought I was nuts. I bring this up in relation to the work because it’s got me thinking about how my work has evolved, and how the individual has become more and more transparent. My subjects were becoming objects. Perhaps this was mirroring the way I was experiencing people — as individual fragments, atomized. I became enamoured with this idea of the self as object, but also how this relates to our own materiality and the very notion of photography’s ability to be able to document anybody accurately.”
“I’m beginning to realize that everything I do, and everything I like, is always a little bit funny. If something isn’t a little bit funny, I find it difficult to relate to. But, the really beautiful and excruciating things are a little bit of funny mixed with a little bit of something not-so-funny. That’s almost what makes the funny…funny. Something can be so awful, horrific or disgusting that you have to laugh at how amazing it is. That is the type of stuff I really love. I suppose I cannot help but make things that hover in this sort of unsettling space.”
*I think I may replicate this “black and flower” number for my next date night with the man. *