Exhibition: – 28 Apr 2013
THE RAVESTIJN GALLERY
1013 BV Amsterdam
March 11, 2013 – April 28, 2013
The Swedish born Eva Stenram calls herself “an artist who works with photographs”. Her source materials are photographs found in (vintage) magazines, on the Internet or from family photo albums that she digitally manipulates – leading to bizarre and arresting images.
For her series, ‘Retouching History’, she wanted to explore a personal fantasy: “what would it be like to be the same age as your parents?” Using photographs from her family album, Stenram digitally inserted herself as a twenty year old seated next to her mother in a bar, as though a photograph had been taken of two drinking buddies. For ‘pornography/forest_pic’ she downloaded hardcore pornographic images from the Internet that are set within a forest but removed the human bodies. The presence of the bodies in the images are still felt, but the image appears like a crime scene in which the police have found a cloth spread on the grass together with some clothes.
For her latest series, ‘Drape’, consisting of a mixture of black & white and colour images, she manipulated vintage pin-up photos of women who had been photographed in front of an interior curtain or drape. Stenram digitally extended the curtains to conceal the head and the naked torso, whilst the legs and arms are still shown.
Through Stenram’s alterations the natural pin-up poses become unnatural and even funny as we see strange limbs sticking out from behind the drape. In some images the drape forms the shape of a pleated skirt.
By covering the women with a drape the photographs become more erotically charged than the original exposed pin-ups as we can let our imagination run free about the naked bodies behind the curtain. A curtain is used to protect our privacy, a barrier between public and private space, but in Stenram’s erotic images it serves as a wall behind which thoughts can be kept private. We can gaze unashamedly and become a voyeur just like the protagonist in the film ‘Body Double’, who peeps, each night, at his female neighbour with a telescope.
“I was interested in blocking out the main areas of interest in the image – making the focal point of the image disappear and instead make the background engulf the foreground”, says Stenram on her intentions behind ‘Drape’, adding, “Although the model is covered she still manages to tease the viewer to look at the picture and pay attention”.
Eva Stenram (1976) was born in Stockholm and lives and works in London. In 2012 she was nominated for Le Prix Découverte des Rencontres d’Arles (Discovery Award) and in 2007 she won the Royal College of Art Graduate Award. In 2013, Stenram will also have a solo exhibition at Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool and is a finalist in the Hyeres International Photography Competition.
One of her tutors at RCA was John Stezaker, the conceptual artist who became renowned for his surreal collages. There is a difference as to how Stenram appropriates pre-existing images in comparison to Stezaker: he is interested in the cut of the photo whereas she is interested in the digital cut and blending thereof. There is a disruption in Stenram’s photos, but it is not a physical disruption – the photographs remain flat and pristine.
Stenram’s work has been exhibited worldwide, including the Mumbai City Museum in India, Zendai Museum of Modern Art in Shanghai and The Photographers’ Gallery and Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) in London. The V&A and the Tate Gallery have included Stenram’s work in their collection.