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.
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.
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.
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.