Essay by Susan Bright
12.25 x 9.5 inches
|Kelli Connell’s portraits appear to document a relationship between two women. Their idiom looks familiar: a young couple caught up in everyday moments of pleasure and reflectiona picnic in the park, playing pool in a bar, taking a bubble bath together. The first flicker of unease comes as soon as the viewer registers the similarity of the two subjects, who seem to be twinsand perhaps incestuous twins at that. In fact, Connell has photographed the same model portraying both of the women and then digitally combined the two images so seamlessly that not a trace remains of their construction. Connell has been at the forefront of artists using digital technologies for the past decade, but her art is not about Photoshop. The photographs in Double Life extend far beyond their duplicity into larger and more complex issues of identity and visual rhetoric. As she tells Dawoud Bey in the accompanying interview, “For the most part, I’m not actually thinking so much about representing two females in a relationship. I’m more so thinking about the multiple sides of the self in the overall human experience.”
Kelli Connell received an MFA from Texas Woman’s University (2003). Her body of work Double Life has been included in numerous national solo and group exhibitions. Connell’s work is included in the collections of Microsoft; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Columbus Museum of Art; the Dallas Museum of Art; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Recent publications featuring her work include Auto Focus: The Self-Portrait in Contemporary Photography, Photo Art: The New World of Photography, and Vitamin PH: New Perspectives in Photography. Connell teaches at Columbia College Chicago.
Susan Bright is a curator and writer. She has contributed to numerous publications and is author of Auto Focus: The Self Portrait in Contemporary Photography (2010) and Art Photography Now (2005 and 2011). Notable exhibitions include Face of Fashion at the National Portrait Gallery, London, and How We Are: Photographing Britain, co-curated with Val Williams for Tate Britain.
Dawoud Bey is an American photographer renowned for his portraits of young subjects. His essays on photography and contemporary art have appeared in numerous publications. He is currently Professor of Art at Columbia College Chicago. Born in New York, he received his Master of Fine Art degree from Yale University School of Art.