Vee Speers. These portraits confront us with reminders of our own childhood, creating enigmatic stories which blur the line between reality and fiction.
‘The Birthday Party’ eternalises the last days of childhood with timeless portraits that are at once hauntingly beautiful and provocative. Vee Speers has hosted an imaginary party and her guests are children. But what kind of party is this? There is no cake, games or balloons and the children seem strangely threatening.
In terms of photography much has changed since the Britain’s elite dressed up for a duchess. Posing for the camera is almost ‘second nature’ and the children are only too aware of the power of their performance. The resulting portraits are defiant and theatrical but also macabre and melancholic.
There is a feeling of an apocalyptic and dystopic future reminiscent of films such as Blade Runner, Delicatessen, Children of Men and Mad Max. It is as if the children are resilient survivors of a catastrophe, living by new rules in an uneasy society. On a metaphorical level Speers has used the language of children and the backdrop of an imaginary birthday party to tap into the contemporary adult concerns inherent in our society. On a micro level she has also succeeded in choreographing characters that offer allegorical glimpses into the daily battles of life by learning to adopt various masks through the art of performance. She explores the playful escapism of games of “dress up” in childhood and the encompassing notions of performance and play.
These portraits confront us with reminders of our own childhood, creating enigmatic stories which blur the line between reality and fiction, highlighting our need to escape into fantasy.
Vee Speers, a Paris-based Australian artist, fell in love with photography in the ’70s. She assisted her father in his converted caravan darkroom and was mesmerised as his portraits appeared like magic. After completing art school in Brisbane in the ’80s, Speers worked as a Stills Photographer at the ABC Television in Sydney. In 1990, a short stay in France became a permanent move to Paris, which, according to her, is a place with ‘unlimited potential and endless creative inspiration’. Speers has exhibited in museums, galleries, art-fairs and festivals around the world, and her work has been published in features and covers of more than 30 international magazines, with four sold-out monographs of her work.
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