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Michele Abeles

emerging contemporary artists - Michele Abeles

If New York photographer Michele Abeles' work seems somehow hard to pin down, straightforward categorisation is precisely what she seeks to avoid.

Instead, she sets out to "explore the dehumanizing effects of the contemporary mediascape, the fractures in our ways of making meaning, and the sense of unease these developments provoke."

Accordingly, her images veer through a range of vocabularies from the overly familiar to the startlingly fresh. Studio works combine with location shots; landscapes jostle with enigmatic portraits; a calendar-perfect white cat provides pristine counterpoint to a grainy black and white image of dogs slumped by a roadside.

Michele Abeles

Grouped together (left), these apparently disparate photographs evoke a sense of artifice and disconnection, a record of photographic possibility stripped of contextual support.

Confounded by their very heterogeneity, we struggle to form comfortable assumptions regarding their illustrative function or, indeed, their author's intent.

 
Michele Abeles

In an ongoing series, Abeles exerts further strategies of defamiliarisation by "photographing the body... as if it were an object rather than a live subject."

Her various models (white males who embody a "blank slate" of western culture) are arranged among props as if simply a prop themselves (left).

Deprived of the protagonism usually conferred by portraiture, simplistic notions of identity and individuality - those stalwarts of contemporary culture - are likewise effaced into an almost indistinguishable series of presences.

Abeles further explores this subjugation of difference by recreating shoots so that certain images appear to repeat, albeit featuring different models and other small, deliberate variations.

Removing characteristic scaffolds of meaning to expose our growing dependence on such structures, Abeles joins a rising number of contemporary photographers concerned with the codification and consumption of image in a media-saturated 21st century.


emerging contemporary artists - Michele Abeles

December 2010

 

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