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George Steeves: E-minor No. 21 (GS & LH)
E-Minor #21 H-01-03-18-33-72-07 2006
Known for his emotionally charged serial portraits, the photographer George Steeves is depicted in Intermediaries I & II with his long-time muse, Astrid Brunner. In this pair of images, the psychological intensity of the artist-model relationship finds emphasis in the doubling of Steevesí image on either side of the central figure of Brunner. Each photograph is a bit of a visual puzzle, write art critic Martha Langford, the almost inexplicable detail is the line that splits the frame and is itself divided horizontally into black and white. Is the drapery real (is it reflected only once in the camera), or is it already a reflection? Brunnerís confrontational stare and the disorienting play of reflections creates an ambivalent space, destabilizing notions of inside and outside, subject and object, viewer and viewed.
The Excavations series of several hundred prints was completed over a period of nearly 20 years and forms a melodramatic group portrait in four sections: Exegesis, Entropy, Extasis and E-Minor. In Entropy Tim Dunn perches precariously on a patio table set on an apartment balcony, overlooking Halifax harbour. Dunnís obvious fear of falling, coupled with his flightless feather boa, creates a suspenseful scene in which the subject confronts his own mortality.
In addition to his mastery of historical techniques and his exquisite printing, the Haligonian photographer George Steeves is known for an iconography shot through with grotesque sexuality, reverence for emotional pain, and chilly black humour. The subjects of his photographs are friends who make their livings as writers, dancers, and performers. Their playful melodramatic and undraped performances for the camera result from voluntary collaborations with the photographer, who also occasionally steps in front of the lens.