Artists and Models by Mary Ellen Bartley
I’ve always found books sexy, the feel and smell of the pages, the slow reveal and discovery of images and prose. In Artists and Models I’m interested in this idea as it relates to the act of finding and losing oneself in a book.
While shooting photography books close up for my Standing Open series, I began noticing a distinct pattern: figures posing within the interior space of the book. This led me to seek out photos of women who reminded me of my younger self. Most of the figures are artist’s models posing, as I did in art school where I took my place on both sides of the easel. The figures seem to be caught in a state of both hiding and revealing themselves. The diptychs are formatted as double page spreads of a book. I pair the figures with photos of pages from a yellowed copy of Anais Nin’s Delta of Venus, in which her story “Artists and Models” is printed. I’m not so much interested in the caricatured eroticism of the prose as I am in the book as object in which text on paper can be fractured and reassembled through selective focus and cropping to evoke a feeling of arousal and longing. Another key element in the work is the abstract striping of book pages. These abstractions entice the viewer to get lost in their endless variations while maintaining the tactile feeling of the physical pages.
Mary Ellen Bartley is the Fraction winner for the Lust show at Jennifer Schwartz Gallery.
Mary Ellen Bartley is a Wainscott, New York based photographer.
To view more of Mary Ellen's work, please visit her website.