‘Intimate Strangers’ – ends this Saturday

susanmeiselas.jpgIntimate Strangers at Open Eye Gallery juxtaposes two powerful bodies of work by award-winning documentary photographer Susan Meiselas. Twenty years separate the two parts of this look at the American sex industry, which explores issues of power and gender roles, work and sexuality, pornography and self-expression.

It ends on Saturday May 20th 2006. I did go to the opening night but have not been able to get back since for a proper look. Again, I didn’t enjoy the images and found the video depressing and dull but that’s just me I suppose.

From 1972 to 1975 Meiselas spent her summers photographing and interviewing women who performed striptease for small town carnivals in New England, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. As she followed the shows from town to town, she portrayed the dancers on stage and off, photographing their public performances as well as their private lives. She also taped interviews with the dancers, their boyfriends the show managers, and paying customers.

In contrast, Pandora’s Box, located in a 4,000 square feet Manhattan loft, describes itself as “a Disneyland of Domination” and advertises “a wild vacation from reality”. Mistress Raven heads a staff of 14 mistresses in her house of domination and role-playing where the rules and rituals are formalised. Pandora’s Box by Susan Meiselas is a darkly captivating photographic journey, which resonates within a culture that has chosen pain as it seeks pleasure.