Susan Barnett's "Not In Your Face" is a collection of photographic images approaching the portrait genre from an unconventional angle.
The entire series by the U.S. photographer is based on the principle of the figure seen from the back. In the Visual Arts sciences, this is a design element of symbolic significance: the figure's back reproduced in two dimensions enables the real life viewer to take the subject's place in the picture and see what the depicted person sees. It is traditionally a very effective way to increase the effect of stepping into the picture. The motif helps penetrate the pictorial space and draws the observer's gaze deep into the work itself...
Susan Barnett breaks with this tradition. The human figure occupies the entire space, preventing the observer from decoding the picture. The in-depth view is blocked by an anonymous back, which seems to be addressing the viewer, clad in illustrative and flashy clothing. Where before one would try to decipher someone's facial expression in getting to know them, nowadays this communication has moved down to the chest, or even the back. This shift, previously read as disinterest or withdrawal, has become a direct and efficient message. At the same time, helped by the anonymous street setting, it becomes an indirect appeal. This once bizarre attitude has made its way into daily discourse and become an integral part of our standard personal coding. But this communication also takes on a political dimension. The systematic study undertaken by Susan Barnett evolves towards a typology in contemporary sociology. The author Gottfried Keller would have been surprised to see his proverb "Kleider machen Leute" reinterpreted in this manner: The quest for identity has become a philosophy blending into ideology and ultimately worn on one's body.
(Text: A. Meyer, Clervaux - cité de l'image / English translation by Nadia Linden)