Artist Eva Stenram recontextualises the pin-up imagery she encounters to reveal new photographic tensions, as her latest exhibition Offcut highlights
In her series Drape, for example, Stenram plays with the curtains usually used as backgrounds, making them cover the models up instead: “It became both a way to highlight the viewer’s voyeuristic desires and to refocus attention to the rest of the photograph. The photograph’s hierarchies were reversed – background became foreground, the exposed became hidden, what was overlooked became significant,” she says.
In another series, pornography/forest_pics, she digitally removed all the bodies from hardcore pornographic photographs found on the Internet. It also points out our expectations as viewers – rather than to show us something about the women in the images, reversing the power dynamic that usually exists between a viewer and the viewed. “My interest was first of all in erotic imagery and pornography. These photographs are captivating partly because they are so functional, their purpose is clear, and also they are of course very strong images that never fail to elicit some kind of reaction. They are intimate, yet they are made for public consumption,” she adds.
For her latest exhibition at The Ravestijn Gallery in Amsterdam, entitled Offcut, the east London-based artist continues to dissect vintage pin-up photographs, this time focusing in on the textiles and fabrics that appear in the backgrounds of the found imagery she uses as her material. Using a similar approach as in her previous work in order to subvert the act of looking, in addition, Stenram has also introduced fabrics themselves into space in tactile form – covering a chair and hanging as drapes from the gallery walls. The effect is uncanny in a Lynchian way, leaving the viewer to wonder, what has been removed from the frame?