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Inspired by the introverted Italian actress Eleonora Duse, Anja Niemi’s photographic series, The Woman Who Never Existed is steeped in theatrical mystery and allegorical connotations.
The celebrated Norwegian photographer who is known for her elaborately constructed work, imbued with cinematic narrative and the exploration of the self, tackles the role of ‘acting’ in her latest work.
As with her previous work, Niemi works alone to produce her photographs, which she stages, acts in and photographs. In, The Woman Who Never Existed , which premiered at Photofairs San Fransisco, and is currently on view at The Little Black Gallery in London, Niemi takes on the guise of a fictional actress who only exists on the stage.
The concept for the intriguing photographs came from a quote by the famously private 20th century actress Eleonora Duse, who once said to a journalist, ‘away from the stage I do not exist’. Using this as her starting point, Niemi has crafted a body of work that deconstructs the act of portrayal and how our existence is quantified through other people; in the case of an actress, an audience.
Inspired by the film work of Lynch and Bergman, London-based Niemi has gained international recognition and acclaim for her photographs, which echo the cinematic aesthetic of her heroes. Not to be confused as self-portraits, her detailed and often ambiguous work feels like the beginning of a story that as a viewer, we have to finish. A challenge and a role we’re more than happy to partake in.
Anja Niemi: The Woman Who Never Existed is at The Little Black Gallery, 13A Park Walk, London, SW10 0AJ until May 25, 2017.