Matte Issue 63: Rachel Stern, One Should Not Look at Anything

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88 pages, embossed velvet softcover

Essay by Ksenia M. Sobleva, poem by Paul Legault, conversation with Susan Alberth

Issue 63 of MATTE Magazine features 62 color photographs from Rachel Stern's series One Should Not Look at Anything. Stern's photographs play with optical illusion and, with a densely packed overwhelming frame, demand careful investigation revealing tricks and secret meanings. Made entirely in camera they consider the gulf between the physical and practical application of communication, taking an absurdist approach. Here the structures of communication supersede that which might be communicated—photographing text as visual experience, symbols as unfixed, and signification itself as a process worth observing. Turning to Oscar Wilde’s play Salome, Stern overlays his poetic text in the space of portraiture and still life. Her sitters are friends and family, colleagues and artists, men she has slept with, who have rejected her, and the objects of secret crushes. There are photographs of babies and grandmothers, of fucking and of reading, of eating and of pissing. They are a kind of genre scene. They are the stuff of real life suspended in the stuff of literature. They are an explanation of everything Stern loves, of everything that loves her, and of everything that doesn’t love her enough. An ode to the unbridled heart of Salome, a ballad for enduring our current apocalypse.

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