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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sam Taylor-Wood

Having shared her work through photography and video installations, Sam Taylor-Wood investigates the boundaries of her media to unveil the strength and solitariness of human experience. The resulting images are not only balanced in composition, but reveal the extremities of physical endurance and human emotion. Her photographs (still and in motion), therefore, seem to be suspended in action, never offering a bit of resolve. A film still taken from The Last Century (2005) is strategically framed to reveal the spectrum of characteristics that separate her two subjects. Although the man and woman are within close proximity, everything from their facial expression, estimated age, attire, and skin color keep them very distinguished and separated. The lady displays an open smile with a lively patterned blouse that matches her energetic expression and carefree optimism. On the other hand, the man’s body language is what ages him: Wearing a dark suit, he stares off to the other side of the frame. Holding a cigarette while his mouth remains closed, his solemn and almost grave expression suggests that his mind wanders somewhere else, far from the environment he currently inhabits. Self Portraits Suspended is a series that exemplifies Taylor-Wood’s constant interest in and tendency to disregard boundaries. Although her body displays the result of emotional release and physical freedom, it is interesting to think about the process that made it all possible.

The fact that I cannot determine whether she is floating or falling is what keeps me drawn to her work. The strength of human perception and its great ability to be changed are two things I think are important to keep in mind and important to making powerful work. Whether it is the
Suspended series or something else, she manages to capture images that hover between human frailty and strength; quiet conflicts and deafening actions. I want my themes of ambiguity to be as strong and unsettling; a constant discussion always reliant on opposing perspectives.

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