Catch it if you can, the evocative, moody collection of photographic work ‘Circumstance’ by Formento & Formento, currently being featured at Society Club Soho. Stylish and yet dark, these powerful images reminiscent of the bleakness of Edward Hopper also bring with them a cinematic quality of light as if freeze-framed from a David Lynch film. In 2009 BJ & Richeille set out on an American road-trip using an iconic airstream trailer as living quarters, makeup room and wardrobe for five months as they shot across 25 States. The women they used in these pictures were often discovered on the same day as scouting the locations and the intensity of unaffected honesty shouts out in the strongest sense of feminine possible.
Their statement on the collection is as follows:
“Circumstance is a narrative, cinematic body of work that deals with loneliness and uncertainty. these are unloved people caught in unloved places and unloved relationships. Love has fled or been pushed away and they are left in the place it once occupied.
A void. Some are left bitter. Others just bewildered.”
These stirring, unapologetic photographs bring forward the legacy of change, economic depression and transience which has haunted America’s history but places the characters in today’s settings, as if searching for their own meaning, a new definition of place which still tips its hat in homage to the grit and dirt from which today’s America springs.
There is undeniably a loneliness, an emptiness that pervades each shot, and although the texture and subtext lies richly exposed, there is still plenty to read between the lines. They all echo this deep sense of ‘losing homes, losing their families’ as BJ Formento has commented. They are a combination of settings, both urban and country, indoors and out.
‘Richeille5 2010′ draws the emptiness of that unmistakable broad US horizon to a point of reference in the figure standing centrally, suitcase beside, not even a definite road or path to follow. ‘Lori4 2010′ gazes deep inside both self and setting leaving an uncomfortable silence of having stumbled upon her most vulnerable thoughts while ‘Dijana1 2010′ collapses over suitcases, as displaced as the Golden Nuggets sign which looms beside, moribund, an echo of another era, as indeed each image reminds us.
Each photograph might offer context and story which strips away any pretence and leaves one feeling some part has been torn away but still begs the imagination to fill in the gaps, the details, whether it belongs to Brianna, Christina or any of the other titled characters.
There is no escape from the irony of iconic reminiscence nor the reality of the sense of expectation of change. Perhaps it’s the viewer’s expectation, perhaps it’s the need we all have for hope in light of what can seem overwhelmingly harsh. Whatever it is, as well as the powerful, emotive tug from what can feel like an eternal condemnation of loneliness, there is most definitely a sense of waiting in each and every one of them; waiting for someone or something to change, move or alter. Waiting for a release from their space. Perhaps, even, waiting for you to visit.
The quality of these exquisite images needs to be seen and felt and in the same way this artistic partnership invites question and challenges state, so do the results of their labour as featured in ‘Circumstance’.
‘Circumstance’ by Formento & Formento will be on display at The Society Club Soho, 12 Ingestre Place, Soho, London W1F 0JF from October 9th to 31st 2012.
Text: © JL Nash, 2012
Images: © Formento & Formento. Courtesy of the artists.