Robyn Cumming Makes the Figure Her Canvas in Experimental Photographs

by CaroPosted on

Toronto based photographer Robyn Cumming often uses the figure as her canvas, rather than main subject, in her experimental imagery. Her subjects’ personalities come through in their poses and the unexpected elements that she mixes into the picture. In her “Lady Things” (2008) series, for example, she completely obscures their faces with things like flowering shrubs, birds, and smoke. While simultaneously unsettling and seductive, there is a compelling mystery in the obscurity of Cumming’s work. It leaves the viewer to reconsider how we collect information about each other visually and use that to define a person’s character. Cumming admits that the inspiration behind this concept comes from her own way of remembering faces and features. Rather than focusing on the body or face as a whole, she tends to study the individual features. It’s an idea she takes one step further in her later series “Frisette” (2010), which portrays various pieces of a person, such as a woman’s manicure. Portraiture photography, generally speaking, can be a difficult means of capturing individuality, which is often layered and complex. Her answer to this challenge lies in the details.

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