Men Without Names
A photographic exhibition by Maud Larsson www.horseofbone.com 13th November - 20th December 2006 The Horse Hospital is proud to present a new photographic work by Swedish artist/photographer Maud Larsson. This striking exhibition is the culmination of Larsson's continuing exploration of masculine roles in modern society. The result is a series of haunting and strangely beautiful character images. Larsson chose a motley troupe of men that have over the years been affiliated with the Horse Hospital - artists, filmmakers, musicians, writers, exotics, vagrants and fellow travellers. Shot over a year on location at the Horse Hospital, the characters are styled with original vintage clothing kindly loaned by the Contemporary Wardrobe Collection. The images were lovingly produced on black and white film stock. Larsson then spent several months in her custom built darkroom in Sweden hand developing each of these beautiful prints, using the expressive yet painstakingly slow and hard-to-tame lith printing process.
At first sight the photographs in Men Without Names look like late 1800s American folk portraiture, particularly those 'Raggle Taggle' men and boys who fought on both sides during the Civil War of 1861 - 1865. They look deceptively authentic, yet on closer examination certain deliberate anachronisms permeate. Details such as haircuts and clothing are distinctly modern; Larsson's blurring of references and periods is intricate and knowing. Sensitively absorbing early iconic images of plainsmen, farmers and cowboys Larsson collaborated with long time friend and colleague British costume designer Kate Forbes to transcend mere historic reconstruction, using an unorthodox approach towards period accuracy. Through charged Western Frontier symbolism they sought to evoke the important yet somewhat forgotten masculine role of hunter gatherer, hero/anti-hero. Dark sunken eyes and craggy features - lives heavy with emotional baggage, resonating inner strength yet belying vulnerability. While facial expressions and often-uncomfortable poses speak of a form of heroism, dignity and understated yet resplendent narcissism, one also senses a certain distance and world-weariness: as true then as it is now. Larsson's power lies in her curious ability to fabricate these archetypal strong stoic men that haunt her photographs, as well as her life. These men communicate or express themselves through actions rather than words, the whole represents the complexity of stumbling, evolving masculinity that is inevitably challenged by weakness, old age and pain. Men Without Names is part of the 13 years celebration of the Horse Hospital's cultural history.