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Issue No. 17 - Enigma

Book Review: Sarah Moon, 'Now and Then'

Book Review: Sarah Moon, 'Now and Then'

Image Above: ©Sarah Moon, Book with cover leaf / Courtesy of Kehrer

Sarah Moon’s Now And Then (Kehrer) is a catalogue that accompanies the first retrospective of the artist’s work in Hamburg, Germany. This catalogue acts as a valuable synopsis of Moon’s oeuvre, with interviews and essays that enrich our understanding of each image.

1.Sarah Moon_The Pear Tree_1992
1.Sarah Moon_The Pear Tree_1992
Image Above: ©Sarah Moon, ‘The Pear Tree,’ 1992 / Courtesy of Kehrer

The book focuses strongly on stills and strips from Moon’s work in film. They deal with classic motifs from fairytales of a Brothers Grimm nature. Le petit Chaperon Noir (1985 – 2010) appropriates Little Red Riding Hood, twisting it in to an artistic study of the psyche. Other whimsical tropes are assumed and reinvented in films as Circus (2003) and La Sirène d’Auderville (2006) – the latter being a nod to Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. The aesthetic that threads through her photography stays constant in her films. Her visuals always achieve the look of gauzy impressions; like eerie, inky stains on paper.

2.Sarah Moon_The Seagull_ 1998
2.Sarah Moon_The Seagull_ 1998
Image Above: ©Sarah Moon, ‘The Seagull,’ 1998 / Courtesy of Kehrer

Now And Then allows us to revisit Moon’s celebrated work from the 1990s with such fashion houses as Chanel and Jean Paul Gaultier. She has re-imagined what one often expects of fashion photography. In lieu of razor-sharp clarity, she chooses obscurity. Moon, for her Romantic imaginings, accomplishes a graphic quality in her depictions of Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garçons, and Issey Miyake ensembles. The dusty yellows, brackish greens, and faded crimsons bleed against velveteen blacks in polygonic shapes.

8.Sarah Moon_The Red Dress_2010
8.Sarah Moon_The Red Dress_2010
Image Above: ©Sarah Moon, ‘The Red Dress,’ 2010 / Courtesy of Kehrer

In the essay ‘Now Was Yesterday,’ Barbara Vinken astutely describes Moon’s work as “taking us away from the present to a memory.” Her work is indeed transportive. It brings the viewer into an abstracted place, where time is suspended and space is manipulated. The mystery and fantasy we see in each image is reinforced upon learning that the artist works under a pseudonym. Sarah Moon is in fact a fictitious title.

10.SarahMoon_September-2015©-Ilona-Suschitzky.jpg
Image Above: ©Ilona Suschitzky, 'Sarah Moon,' 2015 / Courtesy of Kehrer
The exhibition 'Sarah Moon - Now And Then' took place in The House of Photography at the Deichtorhallen. It opened November 2015 and closed on February 21, 2016.
Text by Isabelle Hay
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