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Stories Untold

Photographers have been attracted by the expressive and emotive potential of the media since its inception over 100 years ago. Viewing a fixed moment caught in a hundredth of a second of time begs the question of what came before it, what will come after it, and why this particular moment and point of view is being shown. Many artists desire to become storytellers expressing an open-ended narrative full of potential for the viewer to investigate. The medium of photography is ripe for being exploited in such terms, bringing forth various emotions by inviting viewers to vicariously enter the picture interpreting latent signs and symbols. "Stories Untold" is an exploration by three photographers of constructed enigmatic images rich enough to sustain multiple meanings and encourage a range of sensations and desires within the viewer. The three artists exemplify photographic potential to weave narratives that connect the present to the past. All three use photography to comment on places and people with ambiguous and imagined identities. From the enigmatic mise en scène of Bernard Faucon to the grand architectural interiors devoid of any human presence by Massimo Listri to the invented personas of Kimiko Yoshida, each artist conjures a particular sense of history, either real or imaged, and present it to the viewer for interpretation.

Kimiko Yoshida’s arresting self-portraits are based on notions of identity and transformation. Through the various elaborate costumes and adornments she wears she creates individual histories. Born in Tokyo in 1963, Yoshida felt oppressed as a woman and left Japan with its stagnant notions of identity to move to France to pursue her artistic ambitions. Her focus became centered on feminine identity as expressed through two main series of self-portraits in which she seeks to erase any semblance of self through intricate attire. Always in flux, her “ceremony of disappearance” has resulted in a prolific output of various guises from an indigenous Nigerian bride to a matador to a Red Guard and beyond. The first series of portraits were self-portraits as embodiments of brides from various cultures that wore semi-precious objects from their cultures. Through living in France, the museums in Europe introduced her to the Renaissance (which was absent in Japan) and the glory of regal portraiture. This influence brought her into an imagined world that would silence her identity and allow her to disappear beneath monochromatic paint allowing herself to embody grand figures from history complete with repurposed intricate costumes. Printed on canvas to more closely resemble the paintings that inspire it, the titles reference works from the canons of Western art conjuring more stories and identities for Yoshida. She is truly a conceptual artist. Yoshida’s work is found in the permanent collections of such museums as the Fine Arts Museum of Houston; the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris.

Massimo Listri’s images capture the majesty of grand structures, but also reveal the smallest details with a power to expose the secrets and stories contained within them. Born in Italy in 1953, he had an early fascination with photography and architectural spaces thereby developing an intuitive sense of perspective and equilibrium. His use of only natural light lends a strong sense of mystery while also instilling a sense of calmness within the masterful compositions of palaces, libraries, churches, theaters, and museums. Psychologically rich and full of signs and symbols, the images invite viewers to ponder the histories of these celebrated spaces suggesting a mythology for the structures. A feeling of awe permeates the interiors when every person has disappeared and what remains is the splendid architecture that can be seen as theatrical sets to human drama past and present. Finding and photographing spaces that have aesthetic and historic wealth, he preserves their beauty and simultaneously enhances their history uncovering lost worlds and stories. Listri has recently exhibited extensively, including the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the Morgan Library in New York, the Benaki Museum in Athens, and was honored to be the first contemporary artist to exhibit his images of the Vatican Museums within the very space.

Bernard Faucon was one of the first photographers to master the constructed image creating photographic mise en scène that convincingly conjure up emotions and adolescent memories. Born in Southern France in 1950, Faucon studied painting and philosophy becoming an accomplished photographer. These are relevant early interests because they are underscored in his work. His series “Les Grandes Vacances” composed in the late 1970s became pioneering subjective reality photographs that would push the genre to the forefront in the 1980s. Faucon’s method in this enigmatic and nostalgic series was to employ both mannequins and sometimes actual children to create intricate staged scenes that reflect playful, yet ominous situations from an idyllic childhood. The unusually memorable and striking compositions subtly evoke heightened feelings and emotions, which could be linked to memories of viewers’ own childhood’s which are then projected onto the images. Of a later series entitled, “Les Chambres d’Amour” composed during the 1980s, Faucon seems to reflect a desire to express his own interiority through the creation of these rooms. Yet the mystery still remains, for he never directly reveals the true meaning of his enigmatic work leaving the scenes ripe for personal interpretation and story creation. In 1995 Faucon stopped taking pictures. Faucon’s work is included in the collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris; the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris among many others.

by Kyle Harris