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Blake Little- Preserving Humanity with Honey

0 Comments 25 February 2015

blake little photography

Blake Little’s “Preservation” will hypnotize you with its haunting and strange beauty.

By Andrea Steedman-Gillanders

 

The idea of preservation is an odd one to apply to humans, and brings to mind the preserved corpses of mummies and frozen cavemen.  As a show title and a concept, this is an intentional connection on the part of artist Blake Little for his new show, “Preservation” at Kopeiken Gallery in Los Angeles.  Little hopes his images of human bodies doused in honey will bring to mind the preservation that happened at sites like Pompeii, and he even asked the Getty’s Curator of Antiquities to write a forward for his book in order to highlight this connection.

This is a very different route for a photographer who does mostly commercial work, with an impressive resume of big-name companies that he has worked with.  However, he has always had a close link to the fine art world, photographing many famous artists in his early days in Los Angeles.  Since portraiture and anything involving figures is his specialty, the work in Preservation is somewhat natural.  The innovation of including the sticky, sensual and evocative medium of honey though, is unique and completely transforms his subjects.

 

blake little photography

blake little photography

Like bugs trapped in amber, these images are haunting and a little disturbing.  Unlike the victims of the volcano eruption in Pompeii, though, these people are still alive, volunteers for this strange project.  The photos of them downplay their humanity though, and make them appear as if objects, almost like a statue or a still life of a human subject.   These anonymous models which Blake Little found on Craigslist are not people as would normally be found in portraiture.  Although he did use the models’ names, much of their individuality is stripped away by the technique, while prominent aspects of their anatomy are highlighted by the honey’s nature.

 

blake little photography

blake little photography

The photos lead to interesting ideas about how our gaze on these humans objectifies them.  Although this is rhetoric you would expect to hear in a feminist critique, in this case, the way these people are captured leads logically to this mindset.  When looking at these photos, it is hard to keep in mind that these are real people, because they look so surreal–like sculptures almost.  Indeed, they bring to mind the distorted bodies of Dali, and could almost be imagined to be strange paintings rather than photos.  This disconnection with the humanity of the person under the honey is what makes them interesting, even if maybe a little problematic.

 

blakelittle4

blake little photography

It is also possible to think, though, that perhaps even this is intentional and Little is making a statement on the time we live in.  Oftentimes we think of others as archetypes or even stereotypes, not taking the time to get to know them.  Furthermore, we will all be dead and gone as are the Pompeiians, and most of us will not be so well-preserved.  Unless we create some sort of preservation of our legacy, something to leave behind, our lives could be so forgotten within a few generations that no one would remember our names. Little calls us to remember our mortality in these images, recalling that we are not objects, sculptures, preserved well for centuries, and that in fact, we too will disappear.  The models in “Preservation” can at least say their names and their bodies will be preserved well into the future, thanks to Little.

blake little photography

blake little photography

blake little photography

blake little photography

blake little photography

blake little photography

 

blake little photography

blake little photography

“Preservation opens at the Kopeikin Gallery on March 7th (6-9pm) and runs through April 18th.

KOPEIKIN GALLERY
2766 S. La Cienega Blvd.
The Preservation Book will also be available at preservationbook.com.

blake little book

 

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- who has written 2 posts on Yay! LA | Arts & Culture Magazine.

Andrea Steedman-Gillanders is co-founder of RARW art blog, writer for Inland Empire Weekly, gallerist and all-around art geek. Currently she's enjoying the ocean view while she promotes Laguna Beach gallery, Artists Republic 4 Tomorrow, checking out local Southern California Art, cooking delicious vegan food and reading.

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