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'Intimate Archaeology'

Essay by kind permission of Jim Casper, Editor in Chief of Lensculture 


British photographer Elaine Duigenan offers us intimate views of synthetic fibers designed to attract, seduce, and encourage desire. She presents exquisite details of women's nylon stockings — pale specimens glowing in inky black space and suspended in time. 


These modern-day digital photograms appear sometimes as sculptural landscapes, or surreptitious satellite views of forbidden territories. 


They are intriguing in their casual flung-offness and overlapping textures, crisply detailed in their softness. With the photographic process, she has discovered yet another way to fetishize one of the ultimate fetish objects in western civilization — these filmy sleeves designed with logic and intent to accentuate with a sheen, the curve of an ankle or a calf.


The scientific, archaeological approach to this study also reveals, of course, a sort of tug and pull between machine-manufactured intention, and the delicate, playful and flirty, and the serious, seamed and sensuous. This tension, the subtle tonal range, and the tight cropping, make these images rich and generous in all they have to offer.


In her artist's statement, Duigenan says: "The ghostly images have a multitude of referents and manage to hover between 'intimations of elegance' and downright quirkiness.


"Ultimately perhaps the dialogue they prompt has to do with perfection and imperfection, residing somewhere between the smoothness and the wrinkles, and in the tension of close-knit and loosening threads..."


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