In Double Life, Kelli Connell constructs scenes that appear to be tender everyday moments from a relationship—a couple flirts or argues or gently holds each other. Yet closer examination reveals a profound puzzle; the two figures are identical. The recognition of this fact comes as one of the most sublime surprises in contemporary photography. This unexpected revelation is particularly satisfying because it is not a sharp punch line; it is a slowly emerging realization, accompanied by a sense of uncertainty and unease about what the pictures may actually mean.
Connell creates her subtle tableaux by photographing the same model, who plays both roles in each scene. She then digitally assembles multiple negatives to create a single image. In less certain hands, this kind of technical manipulation can easily show its seams or evoke a sense of gimmickry, yet Connell invests her pictures with an honesty and integrity that preserves their emotional resonance and mystery, even after the viewer is “in” on the true nature of the figures. Importantly, Connell’s technical finesse is merely in service to explore a number of provocative questions about identity, gender roles, and sexuality. With her inventive narratives, she gently, humorously but very effectively inquires just how solid and immutable ideas of self and gender really are.
Please join us on Friday, May 11, from 6-8pm for an opening reception and book signing with the artist.