Fotograf Magazine

Clare Strand

Limits of the Possible and the Impossible

An obsession with examining and finding the border between the possible and the impossible manifests itself in every work made by photographer Clare Strand (b. 1971). She became more widely recognized thanks to her 2002–2003 series Gone Astray. The series consists of two sections (Details and Portraits), and, in addition to Dickensian literary references, takes us on a tour of the history of photography. Gone Astray Details is based on a visuality which may be found, for example, in the photographs of Weegee or the night time scenes of Brassai. In this case, however, it is more of a personal diary, which is presented to us as a surreal-bizarre fictional story. Conversely, in Gone Astray Portraits the artist works with the motif of studio portraiture. In front of a backdrop, painted in the spirit of 19th century landscapists, she presents a seemingly random choice of contemporary characters. However, on second glance, we see small imperfections in those portrayed: a broken leg, a cold sore, or a torn stocking; the sitters hold props that suggest status and class, and gradually we realize that these “portraits” have been arranged and carefully styled by Strand, as if a cast of actors in an urban play. Similarly, we see a hint of the glitz covering the dirt of big cities, the dark corners next to the luxurious facades.

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