Image above: © David Magnusson, Rose Smoak, 16 years, & Randall Smoak. Dixie Louisana. 2011 / courtesy of Rick Wester Fine Art
Images above: © Peru McCarra
David Magnusson’s first solo exhibit in New York focuses on the American tradition of Purity Balls- commemorations of public promise that a daughter makes to her father that she will remain celibate until marriage.
Purity depicts the personal importance that these balls have in the lives of fathers and their daughters by presenting their relationships as ones of love and pride rather than domineering and oppressive, as some may wrongfully imagine them to be. The lighting and soft colors that Magnusson uses help to communicate that tenderness behind this rite of passage.
Image above: © David Magnusson,Whitney Holloway, 17 years & Eric Holloway. Shreveport, Louisiana. 2011 / courtesy of Rick Wester Fine Art
With his eyes closed, a father embraces his daughter as she looks out at the viewer. A large white cross stands bright behind them. The photographs that make up Purity were taken in 2011 and 2012 in Colorado, Arizona and Louisiana, at Purity Balls that Magnusson himself attended. He observed the differences in his subjects by asking them to pose themselves as they please. What he saw in the photographs was that the daughters were the ones who opted for more controlled poses, as opposed to the fathers, who were overall more passive and relaxed in their stances.
Image above: © David Magnusson, Will Roosma & Nicole Roosma, 17 years. Tucson, Arizona. 2011 / courtesy of Rick Wester Fine Art
Although Magnusson explained that the series is intended to force viewers to think about how we are shaped by society and its values, Purity seems to focus more on personal and individual paternal relationships behind the balls. His depictions help shatter the assumptions that fathers participate in these balls just to “protect their families’ honor”—as Magnusson himself initially thought—and uncovers that there is an overwhelming amount of love, sincerity, and pride involved in the tradition. David Magnusson is a Swedish photographer who works as a freelance photographer for publications such as TIME Magazine and Svenska Dagbladet. He has received honors and awards for his work from The Swedish Arts Committee, Picture of the Year Sweden, and World Press Photo Masterclass, among others.
Image above: © Peru McCarra
Purity will be on view at Rick Wester Fine Art until January 9, 2016.