I'm saving this for real this time

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

jenny gage

When my mother's friend Bette came to visit me the other day, and look over some of my photos, she gave me a list of photographers that my work seemed to be inspired by with out me even knowing it. The first name on the list is Jenny Gage who is often linked in her work with her husband Tom Betterton. To my surprise I found out she too is from Malibu. In a interview I read about her opens up with a quote which sums up my ideology of taking photos these days:

“I ALWAYS SAY, ‘I DON’T WANT TO SEE YOU WITH YOUR CLOTHES OFF. I JUST WANT TO SEE YOU IN YOUR UNDERWEAR.’”

Gage produces photographic series, usually “set” in a single geographic location (Ventura, Jenny Gage’s photographs are like a fashion shoot gone terribly wrong (or terribly right, depending on your opinion of fashion shoots); one can discern nods toward the hyper-produced filmset photography of Gregory Crewdson (with whom she studied at Yale’s MFA program), the lewd, veneered, rec room underworlds of Larry Clark, the menaced feminist iconography of Cindy Sherman, everything laced together with suggestions of a flashier, cretin-free Diane Arbus (Gage’s subjects have all their DNA). A Gage photograph in which a woman kneels naked amongst the rushes reveals an alarming and unattributed protruberance—a breast? A third arm? A tumor? Lord knows—rolling out from beneath her armpit. Beauty turned grotesque and then back into a weary beauty—this is the gorgeously debased yet compelling Gage terrain. Looking at her work, an uncomfortable emotional and physical reckoning can occur. Repugnance, of course, is fascinating, and so are beautiful people looking ugly. This is not a petty schadenfreude, however, but a shifty poking at our own perpetual insecurities about fa├žade-making.
California; Dolores, Colorado), and starring a “young girl” whom Gage has found (or stalked, by her own admission) in the town. These series are not meant to be factual documents of her subject’s life, nor are they entirely make-believe, but joint role-playing ventures that blend autobiography and fantasy—the fantasy of the subject, and the fantasy of the “watcher.” Gage’s oblique narratives are suggestive of sinister events about to transpire, or sinister events that have recently occurred, with the extent of the damage yet to be determined. The mood is always kinetically tense if subdued (the calm before or after the storm), and the tragedy feels fated—like participants in a Richard Yates novel, or a Greek myth, these “characters” are doomed to carry out the proclamations of some dark oracle. As is the case with many bleakly-inclined artists, Jenny Gage, in person, is a righteous hoot. She grew up in Malibu, California, but now lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she and her husband Tom Betterton (both in their mid-thirties) collaborate on everything from her photographs to films to commercial photography work.

for the rest of the interview, click here






3 comments:

Colin Roe said...

do you think you could email me the list?

alexgirl said...

I love Jenny Gage. She was my adviser in college and I assisted her and Tom on a few shoots after college. They are both talented and lovely people.
I'd love to see more of your work, esp if it's in a similar vein to Jenny's--a lot of mine is, too!

Anonymous said...

they are actually both pretty sordid and petty people. talk about glorified commercial "artists"...the woman has one interview floating around the internet and the same series of photographs and she is supposed to be a credible artist? and tom is a hack. he lives and works in his wife's shadow. it's pathetic. not to mention that they are underscored with "cool," but they would never admit to it. they are basically grown up spoiled rich brats that became collegiate hipsters and are now whatever the hell you want to call them. their work (that should be read as jenny's work, with tom's name attached as a formality) is nothing to write home about.