Friday, March 27, 2009
vee speers via lens culture
Was interested to spot a 2007 series of shots by Australian photographer Vee Speers, currently on show in several international exhibitions – including Atlanta’s Jackson Fine Art Gallery until tomorrow. In spite of the facts that a/the shots were apparently originally shown in Sydney at the Byron McMahon Gallery in 1997, and b/Speers happens to be an Australian photographer, who nevertheless lives in Paris, her name was unfamiliar to frockwriter up until this point. Called The Birthday Party, the series depicts a series of children playing dressups. I saw the initial images on the Cyana Trendland blog overnight – and was struck by the beauty of the shot (below) of the little girl in the black angel outfit and some of the other fashion-y shots. I did however find some other shots unsettling - notably the image of the little girl tarted up to look like a child prostitute in black lace bicycle shorts, with her bare chest obscured by an armful of dolls. Not to mention several images of little boys with naked chests. But that was before I found the rest of the series elsewhere online. It includes one bare-chested kid holding a semi-automatic rifle, with three pistols stuffed in his pants - all real weapons, not toys - and another half-naked boy with a mace, who looks like he’s off to a Belgian S&M paedo party.
vee speers via lens culture
vee speers via penn house productions
vee speers via cyana trendland
Of course had Bill Henson not arrogantly insisted on rubbing a full frontal naked shot of one young female subject in the face of the press - and it followed, the public - via his Roslyn Oxley show invitation last year, the exhibition would most likely have gone ahead without a peep. As indeed Speers' 2007 Byron McMahon exhibition appears to have done.
Even Roxley Oxley herself harboured concerns about the appropriateness of the shot on Henson's invitation, frockwriter hears.
Speers' earlier photographic series was called Bordello. Inspired by the Paris red light district of the 1920s and 1920s and shot inside former bordellos, it was commemorated in a 2005 book which featured a forward by Karl Lagerfeld.
Speers reportedly hails from Newcastle, but has been based in Paris since 1990 and lives near the Rue St Denis red light district.
In the unlikely scenario that Speers was ever tempted to take more childrens portraits back in her home state, it would be interesting to see if, as an artist, she would fall in between the cracks of new NSW legislation which mandates that anyone wishing to employ children under the age of 16 for modelling purposes must first seek permission from the NSW Childrens Guardian.
The bureau has also implemented a new Code of Practice that is designed to protect children from being cast in roles inappropriate to their age and experience.
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