Fractal Scars, Saltwater and Tears, the latest volume from Self Publish, Be Happy’s book club, sees German-American artist Esther Teichmann once again create a masterful mood piece. As if seeing the world with closed eyes, Teichmann builds a fictional space wherein the imagined, the real and the staged coalesce to seduce the viewer into a kind of mythical paradise. There are crashing waves, brooding skies and seashells, while elsewhere caves contain languid female nudes, their backs turned or gazes averted as the darkness envelopes them.
Teichmann brings her own light into this world, articulating the power and beauty of the female body as well as the many facets of womanhood. The sequencing of these quiet photographs range from depictions of her mother, lovers, friends and even strangers, to various images of erotic marble sculptures. The series culminates with the final image of her mother, this time as a saint-like figure, exhaling her last breath.
Through alluding to male-oriented representations of women in art history, while at the same time stalling and subverting traditional views of femininity, Teichmann charts a singular exploration of the body – the impossibility to grasp or release it and the desire to become one with another. The result is a wholly unique and seductive take on female pleasure. In the process, a certain violence takes place in the transformation of her subjects into objects, an expression of the urge to possess something that is unattainable – much like the photographic act itself.
Pairing and physically collaging images into the book creates striking juxtapositions and a density of touch, an approach that is entirely befitting for Teichmann’s tactile ode to longing. And that’s it. In the end, the real subject of Fractal Scars, Saltwater and Tears is, of course, yearning – the yearning to live vicariously through her fairground nostalgia in one, long extended moment.
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