Exhibition Review: Miles Aldridge’s “Short Breaths”

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When we found out Miles Aldridge would be displaying “Short Breaths” at the Brancolini Grimaldi Gallery alongside his major retrospective at Somerset House, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to review it. Our Creative Director Ashley Jouhar went to witness Aldridge’s thrilling, yet unsettling collection of luxurious women in a ‘hermetically sealed parallel universe’. It’s stunning stuff.

Who?

The fashion photographer, Miles Aldridge

What?

‘Short Breaths’ – a series of photographic works at The Brancolini Grimaldi gallery. It is showing concurrently with Aldridge’s other new exhibition ‘I only Want You to Love Me’ at Somerset House. Miles Aldridge’s images convey a world populated by beautiful, immaculately groomed women in various stylized settings. There is a latent tension though, between the women and their surroundings bubbling under the surface of these ‘Stepford Wives’. There is a sadness, an unhappiness and a sense of being unfulfilled. Perhaps you could read it as a comment on our consumerist society.

 

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Decisive Moment?

Aldridge has said about his work, “A slightly uncomfortable quality is what I’m after. I don’t feel like making happy pictures about beautiful models being content… these pictures… they’re pictures of humans not mannequins. They’re troubled, wounded and confused, questioning who they are now that they have everything they want.” This is illustrated brilliantly in the image ‘Chromo Thriller’. A woman in a state of undress stands in a bathroom, styled and lit a ghoulish green hue. To her head she holds a hairdryer, ostensibly drying her hair, a vacant expression on her face. The pose is one reminiscent of an actor in a movie, holding a gun to their head, moments before pulling the trigger. We don’t know what has brought this moment on – it doesn’t matter… our imagination can fill in any blanks. That is where the tension comes from.

 

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Trend?

I think this imagery transcends trends really. It does bring to mind the work of Guy Bourdin, however but extends Bourdin’s vision into photographs that are almost stills from a movie, with the Pop Art colour palette dial turned up to eleven. Aldridge has said that a turning point for him was seeing David Lynch’s Blue Velvet – a film where there is an undercurrent of unease throughout the film, featuring a beautiful and mysterious woman involved with a violent and perversely evil man.

 

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Which Image? Which Room?

I would choose the image after which the exhibition is named – ‘Short Breaths’. It is a beautiful, elegant image first and foremost with a strong, graphic composition. A light is knocked over in the foreground (violence or passion?) A woman is lying on a bed with a string of pearls hanging perfectly round her neck, her hair hanging luxuriantly over the edge of the bed. The Short Breaths title is ambiguous. Is it because she is gasping for air as she draws her final breath… or is she merely enjoying the attentions of an unseen lover, out of frame? This would have to hang above my bed, of course!

 

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One question for the Image Maker?

Your photographs are very carefully conceived and constructed. This approach is very much like a Director making a movie. So, when will you direct your first feature length movie?!

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About Author

Ashley Jouhar is the Creative Director of Image Source. He has worked as a senior creative in the photography industry for over 12 years, previously as Deputy Director of Photography at Getty Images. He is also a photographer in his own right, shooting lifestyle, documentary and portraiture for a wide range of clients. Before turning to photography full time, Ashley worked as a senior Art Director and Group Head at McCann Erickson, London, creating award winning advertising for Bacardi, Shredded Wheat, Black & Decker, Medecins Sans Frontieres and Birds Eye, amongst others.

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