Feodora Kaplan about the circle of life and carnival in the works of the famous Parisian

A French genius Marcel Proust, naming his multivolume literary series “In Search of Lost Time”, poetically defined one of the fundamental features of human existence. Anxious and unquenchable desire to acquire what was once lost, that, in fact, is impossible to fulfil. The past cannot be returned, we can only try to stop it at the moment of “now”. At least with a help of a camera.

A century later, the Parisian Vee Speers, possessed by the infinite creative power of the legendary city, creates a number of photographic series, awaking in the viewer the anticipation of the coming loss, the more painful the more it is inevitable. In her series Bulletproof (2014), making portraits of adolescents, standing on the threshold of adulthood, just about to lose fragility, inflexibility and specific beauty of youth, the artist finds a sure method to catch them and preserve. Balancing on the border between reality and fiction, the artist leads her characters into the game space, offering each of them to choose his own way of representation. Her pallid creatures, looking straight at the viewer or sideways as if the viewer is entirely absent, each with his own symbolic attributes, do more resemble the aliens from another world. Yet, youth is truly another world, where costumes, masks and objects become its magical fragments, bearing some unearthly power, protecting their owners from the destructive invasion of the so-called adults.

Paradoxically, the blending of reality and author’s imagination with all its fantastic allusions leaves no doubt about the authenticity of the characters. The portraits of the Bulletproofs or the guests of The Birthday Party (2008) are deeply existential. Becoming extensions of the body, objects help the models to immerse into their own inner world, dramatically opening its secret chambers. Masks and carnival costumes, traditionally used for delusion, become disclosing manifestations of something visceral and true. While the works of Vee Speers become an impressive manifesto of human self and independence, proclaiming a human right to be oneself, whether it is a prostitute from the rue St. Denis (Bordello, 2002), Parisian freak (Parisians, 2005) or enfant terrible. In this obvious distinctive individuality, their stunning strength and beauty originate.

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© Bleek Magazine. Text: Feodora Kaplan. Translation: Daria Kuznetsova. Images: Vee Speers.