FINE ARTS

Anja Niemi: In Character

Thames & Hudson. May 2019. 240p. photos. ISBN 9780500545119. Tr. PHOTOG
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This compact but comprehensive and handsomely designed title offers a career-to-date summary of the work of Norwegian photographer Niemi (b. 1976). Merging self-portraiture with performance art, Niemi places herself in staged environments and inhabits fictional personas of her own creation, contexts for her to be, in her words, both voyeur and subject. Her stagings evoke film stills and stock film characters (the cowboy, the starlet), and Niemi cites the psychologically complex, startling imagery of directors Ingmar Bergman, Wim Wenders, and David Lynch among her influences. The charged scenes she creates allow the artist the opportunity to explore questions of identity, gender, and the multiplicity of selves within each individual. A perceptive essay and illuminating interview with Niemi by Max Houghton (Univ. of the Arts, London) add value.
VERDICT An excellent introduction to the intriguing work of a talented contemporary photographer.

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