Jan 1 2012: Eight Photographs of an Unknown Woman in a Variety of Unknown Locations (1950s)

There’s no way of telling who the rather elegant lady in these photographs might be, nor (to my eye, at least), where she is in these pictures. My guess is that they’re holiday snaps from the early 1950s or thereabouts, and the lemon trees and coastlines sugest somewhere in the Mediterranean – possibly Spain or Southern France or Italy? Perhaps someone could identify the monuments and statues pictured in two of the series and confirm a more precise location? Who or wherever she might be, though, there’s something slightly haunting about the group of images here, as though her anonymous presence in the various places depicted is tenuous or a role being played: there’s an atmosphere not unlike that found in many of Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills of the 1970s. Nowhere is that quality clearer than in the picture above, as our heroine reflects on her own face in a mirror, raising many questions about identity and the source of the image itself. Who is she? It seems a question she herself is considering here. And who took the picture? No camera is visible in the mirror. We can only assume a second presence, concealed from us, whose lens continually directs its gaze at this perfectly groomed presence as she moves from place to place, often disappearing, almost, at the edges of the frame, or reduced to a tiny scale in the wider image, as though barely present in her own portraits. Just once, at least, she succeeds in passing partially out of the frame, her head raised beyond the boundary of the image where her body glows in a flare of light from the lake beneath her feet.

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