Janieta Eyre

Diane Farris Gallery, Vancouver
September 11 to 28

Tweeling (1996),
selenium toned print

TORONTO-BASED photographer Janieta Eyre has quickly gained notoriety in the contemporary art world with her surreal portraits of herself as twins. Schizophrenic, amusing or grotesque in turn, they double-depict Eyre in the costumes and settings of both historical periods and fantasy surroundings.

Like Cindy Sherman before her, Eyre creates her own unique characters that historicize the conventions and constructs of popular culture. Her visual fictions act as accumulations of memory. At times presented as objects of desire, at others severe, prim, ritualistic or absurd, the Eyre dopplegangers are posed still and austere like static figures in performance are&emdash;although these montages recall incarnations more than contemporary acts.

Her selenium-toned black and white images are crudely lit by flash, giving them a feeling of antiquity. Constructs of the Victorian era evoke the disquieting feelings of 19th Century "spirit photography," when spiritual mediums costumed themselves to embody the dead. Eyre's facial expressions&emdash;deadpan and frontal like Mona Lisa riddles&emdash;bely the absurdity of the bizarre props and decor.

© Mia Johnson