Bergamot Station, Santa Monica, CA

New Exhibition
Elisabeth Sunday has been photographing indigenous people across the African continent for the last 26 years. Using a flexible mirror she created for the purpose (and hand carries unaccompanied to some of the most remote and dangerous spots on earth), Sunday has created her own analog process that prefigured Photoshop that she calls "Mirror Photography". Her method of photographing her subjects emphasizes and enhances their grace, elongating the body and the folds of their garments, creating an impressionistic effect one might be used to seeing in painting but which is unexpected in a medium from which we often expect a more literal representation. The effect is closer to that of dance, in which the body has reshaped itself and learned to move in a way that proclaims and exaggerates all its best qualities, while momentarily silencing its flaws, and in which movement itself has an aesthetic, rather than merely practical, purpose. Typically Sunday captures an elongated vertical reflection, rushing and bleeding like a single expressive brush stroke. Although Sunday herself is never visible in the frame, she is as much actor as she is director within the drama of these photographs, as she strives to represent not so much the personal characteristics of her subjects, but an essential gesture that connects a given incarnation with the long history of the soul. In her Anima and Animus series, Sunday mediates on eternal masculine and feminine energies, using warlike Koro men and nomadic Tuareg women as subjects. The Anima women are hidden under flowing garments, slanting to left or right or reaching upward like dark flames against the steady white curve of a dune. The Animus figures rise like tough young trees or spears, rooted somewhere beneath the picture plane. Grace and violence here seem cast together in a solid block, As with so many of Elisabeth Sunday's figures, these seem composed of stone or bone more than living flesh.


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