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Everything Will DisappearReview - Everything Will Disappear
by Hellen Van Meene
Schirmer/Mosel, 2009
Review by Christian Perring
Nov 15th 2011 (Volume 15, Issue 46)

Van Meene's pictures of white children and adolescents are distinctive but nevertheless use mostly familiar themes.  Her young people, mostly girls, are mysterious, preoccupied by their own concerns, and their incipient adulthood weighs on them.  They are show in natural light and shade, generally holding quite artificial poses, some looking like they are possessed by demons.  They are often sensual, but they don't welcome what this brings.  Some look vulnerable, and others look powerful, but they are all alone, most looking out past the viewer and the photographer to some distant place.  These spooky sexy young people are alarming.  The pictures are beautifully composed and the colors are subdued yet rich.  This set of images is powerful and provocative in its own way, and while the pictures are more questioning than sensational or exploitative, they still trade on a dissonance in our ideas of childhood also used by much of the advertising industry and a good many horror movies.  Children are both innocent and experienced; they are sweet natured and suspicious; they are adorable monsters. 

The real surprise in this selection of van Meene's work comes with her pictures of young African American people, which are entirely different in tone.  They are much more sociological, showing children in a context of poverty, posing against run down houses or trailers, in groups, interacting with each other or the photographer.  These are much more vibrant and interesting images, and I wish there were more. 

 

Link: Van Meene home page

 

© 2011 Christian Perring        

 

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


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