Van Zoetendaal, 2002. First edition. Out of print title. Hardcover, 48 pages. 22 x 28. cm. Colour photographs. Text in English and Finnish. Used. VG+.
Marjaana Kella’s book investigates the nature of photographic portraiture: how–or–if the photograph’s description of surface physiognomy tells us anything of interior character and psychology. Of course we form judgements about people from their visual appearance, but when we meet them we also have the benefit of the way they move and speak. So what advantage does the photograph give us? As Kella writes, ‘A photograph is dumb and still. That’s why we can observe what’s on display on a very special way’.
She shows two bodies of work in her book, one a series of studies of backs of heads, the other portraits of people in hypnotice trance. The rear-view portraits are totally still, frozen, almost wholly non-gestural. We are compelled to observe shape and texture in the most minute detail. The hypnosis portraits are also still, but not frozen in quite the same way. A sense of movement, of facial expression and bodily gesture remains. However, the gestures are not ‘normal’ and we are left searching for clues on the surface to formulate our reading.
Strange and enigmatic photobook. What emerges is a compelling demonstration of that enigma called photography.
Cited in Martin Parr's 'The Photobook: A History, Volume II'.