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10 March 2009
femme verite
Now Playing: the velvet underground - femme fatale
Topic: photographers

new beginnings by Aaron Hobson

Aaron Hobson's work came to my attention in late 2007. He and I exchanged messages about Crewdson, LaChapelle, Sherman and, of course, self-portraiture.

Nicknamed The Cinemascapist, Hobson creates panoramic film stills for semi-autobiographical films that have never been made. From his bio: "Hobson's work is created by combining several sequential, vertical images, thereby offering more visual information and an obscured rendition of any moment depicted by a single image."

His images, predominantly set in various locations in the remote Adirondack Mountains where he is based, often feature the photographer as multiple characters and have a way of slowly sinking in: the full details of the images are not always immediately obvious but most rewarding when you do absorb all the clues laid before you. His attention to all those little details, his use of light and locations to full effect, and his ability to create believable characters playing their part in intriguing narratives makes the images both beautiful and mysterious. Though the format of his site has changed since my first visit (previously the images spanned the full width of the browser window), the impact of the images is still strong at their reduced size.

There is a sinister edge to his first three "seasons", dark, even darker and winter and I suspect the darkness that permeates his work thus far will continue into his new season, femme vérité.

And this is where, for me, his work becomes even more interesting. Hobson's new season involves the wiry, tattooed man transforming himself into female characters for narratives based on the encounters and the lives he has shared with various women.

From the early images appearing on his blog and within the main part of his site, (as I had suspected) there is no sense of the lampooning of women or female self-portrait artists; simply an artist pushing his work into new areas without observing the limitations of gender when selecting his roles.

I look forward to seeing the series unfold.

Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 13:14 BST
Updated: 21 October 2016 16:26 BST
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11 March 2009 - 05:31 BST

Name: "Sven"
Home Page: http://www.myspace.com/muggenhorst

Great location and amazing warm colors! I like the mood of the image!

11 March 2009 - 05:58 BST

Name: "bronwen"
Home Page: http://www.bronwenhyde.com

it is an awesome image :o) just in case there's any confusion, this image is by aaron hobson from his new series. i can take no credit for its brilliance at all!

12 March 2009 - 20:27 BST

Name: "Qathi"
Home Page: http://www.qathi.com

I wonder why it's noteworthy.

if he's a talented photographer - which he is - dose it even need to be noted that his photos are self portraits? Dose it change ones opinion of the work? Why?

Since we know he's taking pictures of himself, we expect that creative drive will push him to create and develop characters. To me it seems inevitable that the photographer is going to experiment with gender.

The constructed narratives portrayed with the imagery we have yet to see, I do hope that the content will be worth discussion.

13 March 2009 - 03:37 BST

Name: "bronwen"
Home Page: http://www.bronwenhyde.com

@qathi: i mainly posted about aaron's work because i've been meaning to get in the habit of blogging the work of other photographers and artists i enjoy / am inspired by for a while now. i've done a couple recently - aline smithson being another, who i'm currently doing a collaboration with for f-stop magazine.

so for me it was more his work in general that is noteworthy overall, but i'm also interested to see how this particular series unfolds, because in my eyes, there is potential for it to be brilliantly executed and his characters to be convincingly real; but there is also a potential for the images to come off as unconvincing if he looks too much like a man in drag, or for the images to be read as taking the piss out of female self-portraitists.

i've also seen far too many posts on flickr by embittered male photographers (whether working within self-portraiture or not) claiming that female self-portrait artists only receive attention for their work because they're hot or they're naked in their photos, not because of any talent they may have in creating, shooting and editing their work. and at least one of them has explored gender within his work, but only insofar as lampooning those female artists, not in terms of exploring a valid characterisation.

when aaron mentioned to me about doing this series, although his reasons for playing the female character himself instead of asking a woman to model for him (though he has previously incorporated other people into his images) are explained here, he also realised there was potential for the issues i've mentioned above to arise.

i do understand that my own interest in this series may not be reflected in other people. like anything, interest in someone's work or the way they are approaching it is entirely subjective.

it's a valid point that noting whether someone's work is self-portraiture or not may or may not have any impact on how you see someone's work. i guess for me i do find that impacts on how i see other self-portrait artists' work, in that a) i identify with them in that role and i find it interesting to see how others are exploring the genre and b) when i see striking images by another artist i often want to find out more about their process and their connection to the work they are creating - ie, is it personal or simply exploring a completely fictional narrative; were the locations staged or simply utilised as is, etc. for me, knowing more about the artists' intentions, ways of working, etc., may increase or decrease my enjoyment or appreciation of the work.

[having said that, i don't care how much conceptual mumbo-jumbo you can write about an artwork, if it doesn't touch me i still won't suddenly be enraptured by it if you explain to me x, y & z about it.]

for myself, i'm also curious to see how his series is perceived by other female self-portrait artists, as irrespective of how i might see the work and appreciate it, i can also respect that others might come at it from a different perspective because of past experiences of being criticised and lampooned for being female self-portrait artists, etc.

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