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Don't You Feel BetterReview - Don't You Feel Better
by Jamie Warren
Aperture, 2008
Review by Christian Perring
Dec 29th 2009 (Volume 13, Issue 53)

Tinyvices.com is an online art gallery, and Aperture publishers have released a number of small books of photographs by their artists.  Jaimie Warren was born in 1980 so these works were done in her late 20s.  Don't You Feel Better is a series featuring herself in different carefully posed pictures -- thematically reminiscent of Cindy Sherman, but with more spontaneity and randomness.  Her Aperture bio says she is working on a book about self-help called It Is Your Fault.  Whether that is true or not, it is a great idea, and along with the title of the book, it supplies a clue to the themes of her work.  Warren, as she appears in these photos, is a full figured woman, and she uses her body to great effect in her images.  Consider images 25 and 26, a pair, Untitled (Self-Portrait, Normal Girl, Outfit #3), 2006 and Untitled (Normal Girl, Casserole), 2006.  In both, Warren wears the same clothes with slight differences.  In the first, she is in a bedroom wearing a white short-sleeved sweater and a black skirt, with white tights and black shoes -- she is smiling coyly with some reserve.  In the second, she is in the kitchen, wearing sock slippers, and holding a casserole, smiling proudly.  These look like snapshots of a normal girl, but in the context of the book, it seems as posed and odd as any of the other images. In Untitled (Self-Portrait, Tree Pose), 2007, Warren with long blonde hair and white clothes, hangs in a tree as if she had been picked up and put there, looking quite alarmed.  In Untitled (Self-Portrait, Elephant), 2006 she sits glumly in a green top over a red t shirt, her hair up, and her face dejectedly thrust into her fist.  Behind her is an elephant with big tusks, although she does not notice it.  So these images play with fat girl stereotypes, with humor and wit, and highlight psychological themes of self-presentation, self-confidence, dressing up, and having fun.  Looking through the collection, it is often hard to think of the images as artistic because you are more preoccupied with wondering whether they are taken from real life or whether they are posed -- the foreword by Starlee Kine suggests that many are from real life.  It's a testament to the power of the images that they take you right to the subject.  This is a deceptively subtle set of images, considering that at first glance they seem like a random collection of funny pictures of Warren.  After living with the images for a while, you start to appreciate how unusual and interesting they are.

 

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© 2009 Christian Perring         

          

Christian Perring, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York.


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