A review from AMERICAN SUBURB X / ASX: an ever-growing archive and fiercely edited look at photography’s always relevant past, rapidly shifting present and dramatically unfolding future.
Review excerpts from Technique and Girl Laid Bare: Charles Johnstone’s “The Girl In The Fifth Floor Walk Up” by Tom Medwell
“It is a beautifully printed and bound book; the inside cover has a diagram of the building, and the first image we see is of the subject of this series holding a polaroid in her hand – as far as openings go, focus is clearly drawn on both the technique used and the care taken over choosing it. The photography is intimate without being overly explicit; two thirds of the way through the book there’s a Raymond Chandler quote, and then it all clicks: these photographs are like evidence – for blackmail, or documentation of a dirty weekend with a lover, or something found at a crime scene. The model, Heather, has beautiful, Hollywood hair; the book becomes an insight into the secret lives of the rich and famous, or at least glamorous, the location and the model (comfortable looking into the camera, comfortable looking away) suggestive of a half-remembered age, and so, with this collection of Polaroid images, a mythical narrative backstory is created. Framed on the crisp white pages, and within the tactile covers, these pictures become a scrapbook, mementos of a private life, which though it may never have existed, fills the blank spaces between the photographs. It creates a contemporary archaism, myths of a time so recent that we can almost remember, and have no trouble at all imagining.”