v2.18 / Connie Imboden’s Infirm Delight

In Connie Imboden’s work, the nude is enigma. It secrets, it suggests. But it seldom shares what it means outright. For over thirty-five years, Imboden has studied the indirect language of the body—indirectly. In many images, water reflects the nude’s promethean potential. It stretches, bends, folds, grinds, tears, and transforms. The body, in the end, may wear human skin and show its human teeth, but there’s nothing humane in its primal dramas. The photographs in this feature take us to the opposite extreme. Using scratched and broken glass, Imboden speaks to frailty and the gathering wreckage of what once might have been the body’s courage, desire, or confidence. Imboden likens these reflections to Dickinson’s “slant” telling of the “Truth.” The pairing feels right to me, not only in the slanted tellings, but in the way the windows fail sometimes in Dickinson’s poetry. The flies get inside. And when that happens, as it happens in these photographs, the body cannot “see to see.”


Untitled 06-23-17-742 © Connie Imboden

Reflections in broken mirrors offers me a different way of seeing the human form, something like Dickinson’s “tell it slant”; the cracks, shards, scratches, and marks distort and illuminate the body through my exploration. It is this relationship, between the shapes of the mirrors and the forms of the body, that is the basis of my art.

Untitled 01-14-16-502 © Connie Imboden

One shard suggests a helmet, another a broken chest armor, and still others seem to render his arms useless. I see in him a ghost of a knight, ruined through battle, but still diligent in his duty.

Untitled 06-06-16-598 © Connie Imboden

A curved shard reveals just a slice of the face, but enough to match the mood implied by his hunched back and unsettled hands. Is it depression? Or hopelessness? Or something else?

Untitled 05-01-17-819 © Connie Imboden

A large triangular shard cuts into the frail, broken figure, making him appear thin and brittle. This shard, ending in a cracked point in his leg, implies fragility, uncertainty, pathos, and even hopelessness.

Untitled 05-26-17-277 © Connie Imboden

I could never conjure these images in my mind, but through a visual exploration, my eyes lead me, my camera, in an intuitive process that takes me to the edge of what I know and, more interestingly, to the edge of what I don’t know. As I leave thoughts, feelings and ideas behind, these creatures emerge.

It is on this intuitive path, this slant, that Dickinson’s, and my own truth, dazzles gradually.

To see more of Connie Imboden’s incredible work, go to connieimboden.com. And check out her excellent book, Reflections: 25 Years of Photography, published by Insight Editions.

v2.17 / Valerie Kabis & the Unquiet Void

Everywhere I look in the work of Valerie Kabis, I see Atlas without an earth. His arms are lifted, ready for the great undertaking. But in the place of the globe, an “unquiet void” (to use Kabis’s own words) defers that fulfillment. Countless are the deferments for each of us, on any given day. It puts me in mind of Robert Burton’s singular masterpiece, The Anatomy of Melancholy—Burton, who said:

Melancholy . . . is either in disposition or in habit. In disposition, is that transitory Melancholy which goes and comes upon every small occasion of sorrow, need, sickness, trouble, fear, grief, passion, or perturbation of the mind, any manner of care, discontent, or thought, which causes anguish, dulness, heaviness and vexation of spirit, any ways opposite to pleasure, mirth, joy, delight, causing forwardness in us, or a dislike. In which equivocal and improper sense, we call him melancholy, that is dull, sad, sour, lumpish, ill-disposed, solitary, any way moved, or displeased. And from these melancholy dispositions no man living is free, no Stoic, none so wise, none so happy, none so patient, so generous, so godly, so divine, that can vindicate himself; so well-composed, but more or less, some time or other, he feels the smart of it. Melancholy in this sense is the character of Mortality.

Certainly, it is the character of the selection here, though not despairingly so. Kabis’s Burton-esque meditations tremble and shimmer with a kind of ecstatic lyricism. We see this in the images too. A thin, excited light quakes in the margins of each frame—coalescing into something neither Atlas, nor any of us, can possibly imagine.

Valerie Kabis

Aberration, abstraction, absurdity, abulia, agony, assimilation.

Fusion, loss of form, deprivation of form, renunciation of form, comprehension of new boundaries through associating with the moon, the sun, the ray of light, the drop of water, the night, the street buzz, the horizon, the sound, the abstract form.

Recombination. Immersion. Absorption.

This body fluid, flows, tears. There I am a border of my limited condition as a living shape flesh forms.

Where shape of the restrictive light ends?

Where I start? Where I end? Deafening music of stars above.

Assimilation with soil, chaos, absolute, unquiet void between light and night.

Nothing remains in me and my entire body falls beyond the limits, becoming a sphere of no-form.

Crystal air hands as edge of birdy animal wings embodying the night into the flesh sleeping glottis devoid eyes amethyst mirror at peace serene wrists blind to the blankness of sound surface white noise sounds white switched on the idle channel beam at whisper eve opening a book revealing the soul the mask of clarity wind rose kiss rose world rose women at bridge cognitive dissonance of the water under cloud wedge vowel mouths acres of words volumetric bulk of comet pregnancy little prince saw dream flesh burning wet glass evaporates the cold air from your surface beneath odd voice of existence deprived echo of crumpled surrealism.

Self-conviction falls through the ripped masks of the days tears off the oil nights savory layers the fingers string breaks inside soft brushes caress the rough cheek skin red feather disappears in the sun mirrors settling in pupils of blossom the submitted stars on white sheets space merge with the imminent day break spring will wake inevitable snow melting water will rise under the cold heels soles you are still standing lit by dim light of the lamp scratched out eyes wrapped in night staircase draughts five minute to eternity​.


Check out more incredible work from Valerie Kabis on her website: www.vkabis.com. And follow Kabis on Facebook and Instagram!

v2.16 / The Visions of Gerasimos Platanas

“Traces of existence”—that’s how the Greek photographer Gerasimos Platanas describes his work. But not existence as we might typically imagine it. No indications here of the workaday trudge from job to shop. I see traces of existence on ecstatic planes—traces of love’s tremor, of sight’s erratic emphasis, of touch and its deepest estates. These are photographs of a romantic eye closed. In the writings Platanas chose for these images, we hear echoes of what we see: “In the sweet light of love I realized . . . the inward self is the only self which really exists.” I can live with that—so long as these “visions” exist somewhere too.

Gerasimos Platanas - Vision (6)

“I was no longer myself, was another, and yet it was on this account that I became properly myself. In the sweet light of love I realized, or believe I realized, that perhaps the inward self is the only self which really exists.”
—Robert Walser

Gerasimos Platanas - Vision (5)

“The soul of the world had opened and I fantasized that everything wicked, distressing and painful was on the point of vanishing . . . all notion of the future paled and the past dissolved. In the glowing present, I myself glowed.”
—Robert Walser

Gerasimos Platanas - Vision (7)

“Let everything that’s been planned come true. Let them believe. And let them have a laugh at their passions. Because what they call passion actually is not some emotional energy, but just the friction between their souls and the outside world. And most important, let them believe in themselves. Let them be helpless like children, because weakness is a great thing, and strength is nothing. When a man is just born, he is weak and flexible. When he dies, he is hard and insensitive. When a tree is growing, it’s tender and pliant. But when it’s dry and hard, it dies. Hardness and strength are death’s companions. Pliancy and weakness are expressions of the freshness of being. Because what has hardened will never win.”
—Andrei Tarkovsky

Gerasimos Platanas - Vision (2)

“Creatures of a day. What is someone? What is no one? Man is the dream of a shadow.”

Gerasimos Platanas road

“Dreams are very queer things. Pictures appear with terrifying clarity, the minutest details engraved like pieces of jewelry, and yet we leap unawares through huge abysses of time and space.”
—Fyodor Dostoevsky

See more from Gerasimos Platanas in the August issue of Adore Noir and in Vol. II of Eyemazing Susan (Eyemazing Editions). For more news on upcoming projects, check out gerasimosplatanas.daportfolio.com and http://gerasimosplatanas.portfoliobox.net/.

All images ©Gerasimos Platanas and used by permission.