In the 18th century, Russian avant-garde, insurrection, and the Stalinist counter-insurrection took a form similar to that of the 20th century art movements. Tension thrived between mysticism and futurism. Artists would come up with new gestures and materials, either pure or primitive. On the other hand, German artists were using Dadaist form of art to oppose the World War I. Many playwrights, poets, and intellectuals who were against the World War I escaped to Switzerland for refuge. Besides the 18th century artists like Alexandr Rodchenko, Laszlo MoholyNagy and Hannah, there are contemporary artists who use their work of art to express a particular message in an unusual manner termed as “de-familiarization”. This essay looks at such artists working in the past 20 years seeking to de-familiarize the world in some way. Specifically, the paper focuses on an artist from Montana named Holly Andres and techniques he employed.
Born in 1977 in Montana, Holly Andres is a contemporary photographer who uses photography to study and educate people about childhood complexities, female self-examination, and the nature of memory. Andres` work was featured more than twice in the New York Times Magazine, Art News, Oprah Magazine Blink and Art Ltd and the Modern Painters. Holly Andres has also participated in exhibitions in Portland, Oregon, Istanbul, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. Andres is among the emerging artists under the age of 40.
In her photograph “The Sparrow Lane series”, Andres expounds the rich imaginary history of film, citing personal childhood memories. In this series, she outlines the stages in the transition to female adulthood using the story of a group of adolescent girls being curious on exploring their immediate environment. Holly Andre’s technique of coordinating stylized color palettes makes her work outstanding and fashionable in setting a dramatic recall (Kopp & Anatole, 1985). She also incorporates photographic techniques of other artists like Gregory Crewdson and Hitchcock thrillers. As for other approaches and secrets that make her work outstanding, Holly Andres says:
I am fortunate to have very good existing clients and I try to cultivate trusting and harmonious relationships with them so that they will continue to consider me for future work. Regarding new clients, I’m repped by the photo agency Hello Artists, and in the company of a roster of great talent, my work is constantly being exposed to potential commercial collaborators.
Holly Andres also has a well-coordinated working team. She works closely with a director of photography with whom she has worked together for a couple of years. She also points that her work is brilliant because of the continuous light in her photographs. “If there’s one characteristic that separates my work from other artists, it is the light. And to me it’s the most important thing about the entire enterprise — the light. It’s how you tell the story in photography, through light. We started working more dramatically in this way with the Twilight series”, she says. Photography is able to freeze memories, capture moments, and act as a reminder of past experiences (Sweet & Holly, 2006). Photography, therefore, grants artists the power to manipulate, reimagine, and control what they wish. In her photographs, Andres can easily de-familiarize the world by breaching the line between reality and fantasy by creating completely novel chronicles of foggy reminiscences. She can ‘make strange” situations by converting her memories or another person`s recollection into movies and staged reactions. For instance, she turns her own childhood experience into a bewildering episode in her recent project “The Fallen Fawn”. In this series, she recollects when her older sisters found an abandoned suitcase near their household, in which the girls discovered what would later be their favorite items of play (Andres, Holly & Olivares, 2009).
According to Andres, the story told to her a few years ago portends the curiosity and naivety of childhood in her sisters. She went ahead to de-familiarize a known true story in a movie-like photograph. Andres first identifies the recollection she wishes to reconstruct and then sets out to visualize it to each and every detail. From there, she can re-stage scenes from her memory and try to apprehend perceptive discord that would possibly emerge if other elements are introduced into the original compositions as she builds-up a sketch storyboard. In this way, her photography is classified as “current” or the contemporary works of the 21st century. Holly Andres also uses re-staging method where the reality is re-dressed to bring out a vivid fantasy (Elger, Dietmar, Grosenick, & Taschen, 2004).
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Contemporary artists have their own way of de-familiarizing or “making strange” a rather normal situation or memory. Like ancient USSR artists who used photographs to disown the First World War, current artists like Cindy Sherman.Gregory Crewdson and Holly Andres creatively paint pictures portraying far-reaching themes through them. This way of passing messages through such creative images is termed “de-familiarizing”. Andre’s works of art mainly deal with childhood complexities, female self-examination, and the nature of memory. This essay has taken a look into Andre`s work, her methods or techniques, and the themes she outlines.