Angela Grossmann’s exhibition Models of Resistance uses her trademark methods of deconstruction and reconstruction to create worlds floating between fiction and fact. Portraits of women made from collaged, found “risqué” photography, together with doll clothing, images of vintage puppets, human hair, and ephemera, form an intimate and disturbing series. Semi-clad women who initially posed in seedy hotel rooms are deftly re-cast and given strength that belies their circumstances. Through bizarre and alarming juxtapositions, Grossmann’s messy cut-and-paste compositions result in playful forms of visual punning: women become hybrid men, breasts invert to become knees, beards become frilly skirts, fronts become backs, puppets’ limbs become human flesh. Her subjects are confident in their bodies and their sexuality, inviting glances and returning them through expression and gesture, contravening the idea of ownership and commodification and defeating any simple understanding of the camera as the phallic gaze.
The subjective nature of Grossmann’s images is in constant tension with the camera’s legacy of objectivity. These photographic fragments of “reality” hold the promise of absolute meaning, but they ultimately consist of images that are only partially true, forming impossible portraits of persons that could only live in fictional worlds.