Published on October 22, 2013
VEE SPEERS – IN DEPTH Dates taken from: http://www.1stdibs.com/se arch/?q=vee+speers A slideshow presentation by Chloe Smith
GENERAL INFORMATION Vee Speers Is an Australian portrait photographer, whose work is known worldwide and part of many museum collections such as the Elton John collection. She is currently living in Paris which she moved to in 1990 , which is where she received her inspiration for one of her albums, as her great love and passion for the cabarets of Pigalle shone, where then she revisited the past in the 1920’s. She has created five albums: Parisians, Bordello, The Birthday Party, Immortal and Thirteen, all of which are displayed on her website which is as thoughtful and influential as she is. http://www.veespeers.com/.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION Vee Speers was born in 1962, in Newcastle, New south Wales, Australia. It was at the Queensland collage of art which is in Brisbane where her journey started through her studies of fine art. Although it was not until the 1980’s where her work started to be recognised due to her working as a stills photographer for ABC television located In Sydney. Vee has worked in a couple of areas such as fashion and photojournalism, but today is a fine-art photographer, whose work has been published in places such as: London, Paris, Japan, Italy, Tunisia, South America and of course her home country Australia. More phenomenally however is how her work has been exhibited world wide, and presented on many magazine covers, making her more of a recognised and loved photographer. Not only does Vee work alone but also with other artists such as Annie Liebowitz who I have mentioned previously in my blog, at events such as the exhibition in Stockholm, which the picture above shows. Overall she is a very popular photographer because she is different and her photo’s are stunning and keep you staring at them unable to take your eyes off of them.
POWERFUL QUOTES ‘She shows beauty where beauty can be terribly absent’ - Karl Lagerfeld ‘Speers' work is compelling in its own right. And although a punch or two may be pulled, the blows that connect leave us reeling, dazed and wanting more.’ – Cinque Hicks (http://clatl.com) ‘Vee Speers' portraits combine elements which evoke conflicting emotions that can surprise the viewer, telling a story that is somewhere between fantasy and reality, the obvious and the unexpected.’ – Huffington post
Year unknown, but before the album Bordello. PARISIANS Parisians is a selection of photo’s which she received the inspiration for in Paris, revisiting her back to the 1920’s, a time where lifestyles had a certain amount of extravagance to them and were different to others. Meanwhile along the way she took the opportunity to photograph those who dared to be different and unique about themselves, and contained a certain eccentricity about them, which attracted her senses and was keen to get stuck in and take photos which is portrayed perfectly in the selection of images she has captured. It seems as if these photos are in another world, as normality is not how you would describe most of them, as you sense there peculiarity. The theatrical settings help with this, as it gives that extra element of drama, which tends to be bold and evokes certain emotions in people, just like her images. Vee met and photographed ALL of her subjects in Paris
EXAMPLES These pictures would not be seen as weird or different by the objects in them but instead the way they are positioned such as the photo of the dog in the image on the left. Or how alligators are crawling the celling. Consequently it makes you think this because you don’t usually see it. It is something different to look at and admire.
2001/2007 BORDELLO Bordello is a selection of photo’s that seduce you due to the several elements of sexuality, yet they still remain amazing. Most are portraits of woman with astonishing beauty, elegance, and sexual attraction, and the images really play with the idea of sensuality and seduction. This website is very useful for Vee’s words on her photos: http://www.lesphotographe s.com/oldsite/2010/03/06/the-parisianlife-of-vee-speers/ Doing research I discovered it follows along the lines of woman on a night out and is inspired by the previous album ‘Parisians’. Vee described how seduction was not just the main message but instead more how woman wear masks almost and have two sides, one they show and one they keep hidden, so it resembled a game almost. This fitted In with her area of where she lived as there was lots of prostitution happening. Also the audience for this album is aimed more at woman unlike you would have initially thought, as male are more likely to be attracted and seduced. However it was more for woman, the photos were not about models posing and looking good it was more about woman relaxing and trusted themselves, revealing there masks. It is more like a story than a photo-shoot of nude woman, which is Vee Speers all over.
https://www.lensculture.com/articles/ vee-speers-bordello-the-art-ofseduction Gives Vee’s views on her work and why she wanted to photograph such images. Each one brings sexual ideas to it such as how the woman are positioned and the faces of individuality. They are all woman who we can be inspired by, as they have the power and bravery to pose in such ways and express themselves. EXAMPLES
2007/2008 THE BIRTHDAY PARTY This is the album that is favoured most greatly among Vee’s viewers and is talked about the most. It was inspired by Vee’s family, when her daughter had her tenth Birthday party and follows the lines of young children, with the choice of dressing up as whatever in there wildest imaginations, no matter how disturbing or different. You get some whom dress as princesses and dancers, yet they have that pure beauty about them that stuns you and makes your question how something could be that beautiful. Then you get the boys who dress macho as the typical soldier or gladiator, bringing the reality back to you. Finally you get some whom dress as pets or dolls, but deeply into the darker more creepy side of life. Overall these photos portray the most twisted side of life and the surreal. It is like her very own fantasy taken place in her imagination with haunting elements included, which is so cleverly photographed with simple backgrounds and extravagant costumes and hair. It evokes the emotion inside of you as you wonder how costumes such as the ones in her photos can display such meaning and relation to the serious matters of todays society. For example the image of the child dressed as a soldier, could connect to the child soldiers today. There is a simple description for this album. Stunning.
EXAMPLES These photos are so simplistic yet mean so much to us, triggering our memories back to our childhoods, yet still connects to the present. It is almost showing the stage of children before they come into the world as young adults. Vee even includes her own daughter, which picture one demonstrates. She has clearly though everything through and paid attention to every pacific detail. For example, firstly by the way she used the same background every time, symbolising a theme almost, and drawing us to the children in it. Secondly the way she freezes the models In certain positions, leaving room for the models to stare at the camera and show there expressions of determination say, which taken the shot at eye level helps with. They are not happy nor sad they are dominating the photo while they remain in there own little world. To understand more about this album and the more technical side in Vee Speers’ words visit this website: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/may/12/photography-vee-speersbest-shot
2010 IMMORTAL Immortal Is Vee’s fourth album and again connects with the audience in a different way. We see adults, young in their early twenties, natural, pure and so beautiful, which is the opposite of society today where everyone craves the use of make-up and fake substances. In this album everything is stripped back, leaving the people perfect and glowing with youth. Then you get the backgrounds, which are landscapes taken from Australia which give that sense of surrealism, and that it could not possibly be something from this world. In addition it shows the stage where everything is desirable and you want to stop time at that point, ruling out any options of growing old, the fear of dying and leaving your loved ones behind. She has left the people without clothes to show how feeble and thoughtful they are and captures us in a moment where you question about life and death.
EXAMPLES The way the models are positioned In a relaxed way shows there youth and lets there beauty fill them. While there expression shows how emotionally drained they are by the thoughts running through there mind, which the background could help represent as you don’t know where they are, the same as their minds. They are so complex.
2011/2012 THIRTEEN This is Vee’s most recent album and contains several images all of Vee Speers daughter growing up during her thirteenth year, hence forth the title. Each image symbolises something different, like each stage of the transformation where her daughter is faced with desires such as independence, freedom and developments of the mind. Vee described the stage as ‘like observing the opening of a flower on fast forward’, because the transition from girl to woman was fast and unexpected. This album it seems is like a follow up from her ‘The birthday party’ album as that showed the last few days of childhood whereas this, is the speedy transformation and last few days of teenage hood, which helps connect people like me to the images, as I am in the similar position to the girl.
Each picture represents various things such as how the crows do in picture three. They could represent the knowledge of what is happening, they are like messengers almost. Or like how the eggs nest in picture one could represent an egg hatching and the girl changing from a girl and entering the woman world. It just depends on how you interpret it. EXAMPLES
PERSONAL ANALYSIS In my previous slides I have given each album title, given information about them and included some example photo’s. But I feel they need further deeper analysis. Therefore I have chosen some of my favourite images of Vee Speers’ and wrote about them. Moreover, they all have different effects on you and are varied in style although the method keeps the same, so it was quite interesting to write about yet challenging at the same time, but I tried my best!
Factual: This Image was taken from Vee Speers Parisians album. Context: The background is simplistic as the artist wants you to focus on the woman in the photo, and her beautiful and artistic tattoos displayed on her body along with her unique hairstyle, which is what the Parisians album is about! Technical: The photographer uses contrast and a black and white effect to create the mood and had used lighting to express the body of the woman, making you deliberately focus on it from the start. Aesthetic: This is my favourite photo from Vee’s Parisians album, mainly because it includes art also. It is beautiful and not like any other photo, which is what attracts me to it so much. EXAMPLE ONE
Factual: This Image was taken from Vee Speers bordello album. Context: Although it is slightly difficult to figure out at first because it is not very bold, the woman is looking in the mirror at herself, creating a reflection, which is how we see two woman. Technical: There is slightly some asymmetric balance as the subject is not dead in the centre it is more to the left. Although the focal point I am slightly unsure of, but personally I am drawn to the woman on the left; the reflection because I can see her face more and am drawn to her emotion, helping me to understand the photo. Aesthetic: The image is sensual yet shows that woman and how she is represented and feels. She looks so peaceful and in deep thought, like she is releasing something that has been playing in her mind and revealing the mask she has been wearing. She is portraying the real her. This message is what I love about it, as it is displayed differently and hidden in the photograph. EXAMPLE TWO
Factual: This Image was taken from Vee Speers bordello album. Context: The setting is unknown as all of Vee's work however the woman is sat on a bench, which is mot obvious! Technical: The photo is in black and white which I think helps to create the mood which is sexuality. The camera seems to be positioned slightly lower than eye level, as she appears to be looking slightly down on the camera , with a slightly distraught expression. Aesthetic: I love it because it shows it is sensual yet shows that woman and how she is represented and feels. Also I like the shadow around her, because it seems like there is two woman there which is maybe how she is feeling inside; she has to act one way, when actually she is feeling the opposite. This could help people connect to it, because sometimes that Is how they feel inside but by a different purpose. EXAMPLE THREE
Factual: This Image was taken from Vee Speers immortal album. Context: The natural background of the photo seems actually quite dark but when you evaluate it closely. This could resemble the persons thoughts, he could be thinking about matters such as death and the difficulty of life and his expression helps comes to this conclusion because it is neutral, as his thoughts are all over the place. Technical: This photo is simplistic which allows you to focus on the point of interest; the man, allowing your mind to explore the message of the photo, which is exactly what Vee Speers wants. Aesthetic: For me the first word that comes into my head when looking at this photo is beauty. The way his pale complexion and glossy hair stands out from the background yet fits in at the same time due to the natural elements of both the person and the background, it astonishes me. EXAMPLE FOUR
Factual: This Image was taken from Vee Speers immortal album. Context: The backgrounds are set in garden like backgrounds except with more extravagance to really express the natural beauty of the person present. Technical: The primary point of interest is the woman because she has such a light complexion compared to the darker blend of colours in the background. In addition it is taken at eye level so you look straight into the persons eyes helping you connect with them. Aesthetic: To me this photo seems very odd in the way that a woman with no clothes is placed in a background you would usually see constantly. But just looking at it proves to me this is not the case instead it is about showing her beauty through the picture and the background symbolises this. EXAMPLE FIVE
Factual: This Image was taken from Vee Speers thirteen album. Context: Everything is so natural and light, the setting is unknown but this factor is unnecessary. The expression of the girl is enough to get you thinking and the purpose of the photo. Technical: Not many technical aspects as the subject is placed in the middle and taken straight on however the lighting is direct and overall complete. It is a very simplistic yet effective photo. It appears the photos are not about technical elements but instead technicality of messages and what the photo is actually portraying. Aesthetic: This is one of the photos I think shows the emotion of the character as the main priority, while the left of the photo is just left normal which is very clever. EXAMPLE SIX
Factual: This Image was taken from Vee Speers thirteen album. Context: Simplicity is how I would describe this photo and the pure white colours of innocence shine, leaving the green leaves that attract your attention. In addition it is taken at eye level so you are immediately drawn and in the same eye perspective as the child. Technical: The focal point is the leaves that are attached to the girl as it is an interesting subject and stands out due to the bolder colouring, although it still stays natural. Aesthetic: I love this photo because it is elegant and pure and a wonderful composition, that keeps you staring at the photo. EXAMPLE SEVEN
HOW VEE SPEERS INSPIRES ME Vee Speers inspires me on so many levels, but where to start. Her work for me is indescribable to explain your feelings towards and she triggers every one in a different way. What I think makes me like her the most is her uniqueness. She is not afraid to be different and try new things with no care as to what people may dislike, she just focuses on what she aims to do and how she can perfect it. When I take photos that have been inspired by Vee Speers I am going to try and put myself in the shoes of Vee Speers and take photos from raw material that are simplistic yet have that element of difference. I am even going to try to create new images that have similar element to this, to really try and understand the mind of this world wide known artist, pure and amazingly beautiful.
POWERFUL QUOTES From Vee Speers ‘Paris is one of those cities where people can express themselves as they like, and no-one bats an eye-lid. It’s easy to be inspired here.’ "Don't follow the crowd. Don't be distracted. Be prepared to work like a dog.“ • ‘I don’t like to follow the crowd. I like to seduce, with images that are at once disturbing and beautiful, but leaving a space for the viewer to enter my world. My portraits combine elements which evoke conflicting emotions that can surprise the viewer, telling a story that is somewhere between fantasy and reality, the obvious and the unexpected’
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