Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Barbara Cole


Begun as an extrapolation of Cole’s fascination with the “calm and soothing nature of water” and born of her desire to “explore the sensation of looking at water from the inside out”, the Underworld photographs were conceived one summer as she sat by the edge of her pool (Cole has always been a strong swimmer, and has been swimming since her twenties). It was not long before she found herself immersed in the project—literally, swimming alongside her models with a 35-mm camera, photographing them from above, the side, and below. At one point, she strapped a ten-pound weight to her stomach so that she could handily sink to the bottom of the pool and lie there looking up, calmly taking light readings and focusing.

“I can hold my breath for a long time”, Cole admits. Evidently so. For the most remarkable characteristics of these outrageously beautiful photographs are their balletic grace and a strange sense of timelessness that informs each of them; qualities unavailable to a photographer in a hurry and under pressure.
And their balletic grace goes hand in hand with a stirring sense of the archetypal, the long arcing questions the photographs ask of cultural history. Indeed, it seems almost inevitable that, no matter how apparently contemporary the model may appear in any of them we are never far from an inescapably Mediterranean sense of antique classicism.
Gary Michael Dault full text (pdf) here

Barbara Cole

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