Human After All: Inez and Vinoodh in 3-D

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Published March 22, 2010

INSTALLATION VIEW. COURTESY OF ANDREA ROSEN GALLERY

 

Last Friday, accomplished fashion photographers-with-a-conceptual-agenda Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin presented Sculptographs, an exhibition to lift their photographs off the glossy magazine page and into the third dimension. The husband-and-wife duo’s show is a collaboration with Dutch painter and sculptor, Eugene van Lamsweerde (who happens to be Inez’s uncle), and reinterprets several of photographers’ previously shown images as a series of abstracted combines.

Installed in the intimate back room of Andrea Rosen Gallery in cooperation with the artists’ New York gallery, Matthew Marks,  the entrance is guarded by twin black-and-white portraits of Lady Amanda Harlech. First seen in the photographers’ 2006 exhibition, The Seance, Harlech’s face is quiet, she gazes inward as tangles of wire grow out of her head and the surface of the image as if she were projecting her thoughts into space.

“We construct the image together,” explained Inez. “The whole idea is to find a way of visualizing everything that’s going on in a picture, even internally, he brings it out to the surface, literally, and pushes right through it.”

The show’s indisputable centerpiece is The Bird of Paradise (2005). Spanning the entire back wall, the sculptograph is conceptually built around a massive ball of mercury that hangs from the ceiling. According to Inez, this ornament, which looks like an oversized Christmas bulb, was a staple in Eighteenth Century birdcages, its reflective surface serving to trick birds into thinking that they were “among many” in their solitary, decorative prisons. As a result, the birds would fly, sing and scream for their owners’ amusement. The nude woman in the work’s root image is doing just that. Her upper body in color, her nether half in black and white, the unidentifiable subject screams as she kneels. Her gnarled hair covering her face, the figure’s wings are, perhaps most intriguing for instead of feathers, they are composed of a collage of faces, including those of Natalia Vodianova, Sean Penn and Beyonce. “[The wings] are a cross section of all the images my husband and I have done in our 25 years of working together. So it’s kind of a cross section of humankind, if you will, symbolizing everyone.”

This theme of raw, screaming humanity resonates throughout the show. Flawless nude models are caged by rays of wire or are juxtaposed against slashed, dangling X-rays. Kate Moss rises from a lumpy, coral-esque form and Root (2009) features a headless, naked male torso growing out of a distorted black wax-and-enamel penis. Each work transforms the photographers’ often aesthetically “perfect” subjects into something darker, harsher and, in many cases, more relatable. In truth, this is the beauty in all of Inez and Vinoodh’s work.

SCULPTOGRAPHS IS ON VIEW THROUGH MAY 1. ANDREA ROSEN GALLERY IS LOCATED AT 545 WEST 24 STREET, NEW YORK.