O'Born Contemporary


#5 Peep Show

Group Exhibition

February 4 – March 13, 2009


Emerging local talent Leanne Eisen also makes reference to seedy interiors, but she has chosen legalized Las Vegas sex hotels as the influence for the interiors that take centre stage in her dollhouse photographs. Eisen has skillfully constructed her scaled down props and interiors by hand, the indeterminacy in not knowing if these are photographs of actual spaces in a brothel give the armchair voyeur the opportunity to ponder at length what may have taken place in these vacated spaces, and perhaps find it unsettling when it becomes apparent they are contemplating a miniaturized version of a brothel in which they could become pimp, client, madame or sex worker, wielding full control over their domain. There is the mere suggestion of what may have transpired in the bondage room, the bedrooms, the bar with its dancer's pole, the Victorian chamber with its lush red velvet sofa, the rooms are empty of sweating bodies but the trace of their past and future activities are inscribed in the environments made by Eisen, awaiting the next visitor.

Camilla Holmgren is an OBC favourite. Her self-portraits continue to fascinate and entice the imagination as we follow her trail, stalking her every move as she stalks herself through the rooms of a sparsely furnished European apartment. We most recently showed Holmgren's photos in our exhibition of Danish photography, and in these new photographs Holmgren's partially clad presence continues to invite the viewer to contemplate her as she indulges a solo game of hide and go seek, captured by her own hand at her own whim through her use of a cable release.

By comparison to the control held by Holmgren in her autoportraits, the vernacular photographs available from a private collection of so-called "cheesecake" photos from the 50's and 60's take us back to an era in which actions were furtive on the part of photographer and model, as well as that of the end purchaser. The photographs were treasured and hidden from public view by the titillated recipient for a panoply of reasons that may seem incomprehensible to a contemporary audience used to seeing billboard sized images of models in various states of arousal and undress, but the great peepshow equalizer across half a century is our compulsion toward sexual attraction and our longing for the unattainable. The models in these vintage images oftentimes don't meet contemporary ideals of beauty and perhaps it is one reason that these photographs retain a certain charm. In the particular selection being shown in No. 5 ~ peepshow the models are enjoying themselves, they appear to be exhibitionistic by nature and fully engaged with the camera as well as the photographer behind the machine. The details in the rooms in these photographs are small clues to the more furtive aspects of the encounters; some of the images are obviously taken by professionals using professional models, but others are as clearly random Ð they are confounding and at the same time entrancing precisely because of their mysterious origins. Images in this collection range from large scale modern prints produced from vintage negatives to small and intimate original prints bought only to be buried away and brought out under cover, to seduce and tantalize the owner and perhaps a small circle of trusted intimates. They remind the contemporary collector that these photographs, while never intended to be high art in their time, are still a strong presence in the history of the nude, bearing with them the passage of time and the crumpled edges of the history of human desire.

- P Elaine Sharpe – January 2008