Deborah Turbeville: Past Imperfect

My friend JZ first introduced me to Deborah Turbeville's work while we were students at Brooks. When I first saw her images, I was blown away. I've never seen anything like it before. They were fashion pictures but they were less about the clothes but more about presenting dark and mysterious visual tales set at a certain time and space she created. Her photographs pushed the boundaries of the photographic scale with blown out highlights and blacks without details. She had a preference for blurred and loosely focused subjects to enhance a certain look, a particular point of view or emphasize an emotional moment. Exposing her creative process was part of the final product. She used contact sheets and raw polaroids which she cut, rearranged and pasted back together to form her visual narrative. She definitely opened my eyes to a different way of seeing pictures.

Here is Ms. Turbeville's own words from her latest book Past Imperfect.

The photographs on the following pages are of models who worked with me in the late 70's… They perform throughout this book as a kind of repertoire company… Little pieces that were put together like silent films… at least, the making of them…the process was very similar… It is typical of my way of thinking and working to prefer a work in progress… in this way I can play with different elements… place – light – time – space – texture –emotion (facial expression) – movement… Endless possibilities suggesting allusive stories that take you somewhere yet remain incomplete… a bit like fragmented dreams.

Publisher: Steidl