Hyperallergic has published an essay about a project titled Free Sitting done by artist Nora Herting, who got a job as a photographer at a JC Penny portrait studio for the project. Here’s the essay’s description of the project:
The portrait serves a testament to the subjects’ prosperity and personal relations, and yet, despite the time and care people take when having their pictures taken at commercial studios, the resulting photographs are rarely considered aesthetic objects. They are documentation. Herting’s work questions what, exactly, we are documenting in this benign, constructed way.
The studio-portrait experience has a structured set of parameters that form a stylistic equation. When participating in this process we become blind to its constructs. Artists disrupt and violate codes and, in doing so, bring them to our attention. Herting breaks the rules of the studio portrait, and the resulting photographs no longer fulfill their role as social symbols. Images programmed to be evidence of happiness or prosperity become painful, ugly or embarrasing, possibly revealing something unseen before.
If you can wrap your mind around this, please leave a comment with your translation or interpretation.
Image credits: Photographs by Nora Herting