I’ve been a fan of photographer Loretta Lux for a while now.
Her photographic works encompass lots of my favourite things about good images: people, metaphor and that elusive something ‘else’. They stay with you. You’ll be thinking about the images in days, weeks, months to come. Images with that much impact are seldom.
Loretta Lux takes surreal portrait shots of children (and from what I’ve seen, the odd dog or cat). These are often children she knows, children of friends. They are posed and presented as idyllic representations. Lux carefully art directs each shot. They are altered post-capture delicately to show slightly distorted features, with limbs and body to appear subtly smaller. Their skin is also altered to become flawless; perfect.
Wide, full gazes are wise beyond their years. This creates a juxtaposition of (young) age and wisdom. Their staged, assured poses denote strength and none of the fragility normally associated with children.
These children are not normal, nor are they real. Their skin pallor, bright eyes, rose lips and tailored clothes also refuse date or culture; they are not of any world in particular and belong no where.
They are beautiful, yet entirely disengaged and bravely go against the standard reach of portraiture to capture something of the sitter’s character or mindset: we can learn nothing from the heavy, empty looks about individuality, only that each eery child portrays an impossibility of expectation. It says more about what we see and our willingness to accept it than about the child itself.
The muted pastel-coloured painterly images do rely on digital manipulation to create the look Lux is after. This is not a critical aspect; in fact it makes them what they are – indications of our ability to manipulate our own views to become detached and perceive things – even children – in an idealized fashion.
Do you find Loretta Lux’s surreal children’s portraits engaging or disturbing?