Twisted Cherry: Julia Peirone
Vulnerability runs as a red thread through Julia Peirone’s work. The subjects performing in her photographs are often teenage girls. They are in an uncertain state of transition, when the body and mind are in a constant state of flux. But becoming – and being – a young woman also means that you are exposed to external pressures that are firmly rooted in our society’s patriarchal structure. The ideals of how to look and behave in order to be socially accepted and considered normal, can be overpowering. A part of the problem is that the demands are internalized, and women of all ages are turned into critics of themselves – sometimes they become their own worst enemies.
The sense of vulnerability is also a consequence of Peirone’s choice of portraying the young women during unguarded moments, or in situations when they have lost control. In the new series they are stumbling, falling or trying to stand up dressed in sleeveless tops, miniskirts or shorts and high heels – a fetish and symbol for desire and domination. The young women are photographed one by one against a grey backdrop. No one is looking in the camera and hands, or hair hides their faces. They seem to be in a state of trance or intoxication deeply unaware of the situation? We have seen them late nights outside bars and clubs, wondering how they will get home safe.
The images are fuelled by an internal tension, since the vulnerability of the subjects is contrasted with the photograph’s material perfection. The prints are crystal clear and have a soft tonality – particularly visible in the models’ pale skin. As objects the images could be described as luxurious and seductive. Qualities that are reflected in the titles: Golden Sunset, Blue Temptation, Black Velvet and Vanilla Passion – originally names of cocktails. Adding to the complexity of the work is the fact that Julia Peirone has photographed with the camera placed at a low position. The angle creates an expression of monumentality, which has an empowering effect on the portrayed girls. It is a conscious act of resistance, and it brings to mind Samuel Becket’s words: “Try again, fail again, fail better.”