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Issue No. 17 - Enigma

Miles Aldridge’s Carousel

Miles and I first met at Steidl Publishers in 2009 when his remarkably delicate but persistent skills of persuasion finally got him in Goettingen to finalise Picture for Photographs, his first book under the imprint of friend Karl Lagerfeld. In a blink of an eye Aldridge’s career took off and expanded beyond the role of “fashion photographer”. A whirlwind of events lined up for him: the recent release of the new publication I Only Want You To Love Me with Rizzoli and the launch of his first portfolio Carousel in Los Angeles; the current exhibition at Steven Kasher Gallery in New York, and two shows in London at Brancolini Grimaldi Gallery and Somerset House in July. Miles’ work is a beautiful and hypnotic enigma—this is how I would describe it. Anybody who visited his website and listened to the background music while looking at the images certainly got a glimpse of it. There are two layers of meaning to his work: a façade of manifest and undoubtedly artificial beauty, or unrealistic perfection, and a lingering sense of displacement, mal à l’aise, darkness and loneliness.

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The Room #2 © Miles Aldridge 2011

I have been there. I have judged his work as purely fashion photography made for glossy magazines but I realised that, just out of snobby prejudice, I wasn’t really engaging with his imagery. Beauty is not necessarily a synonym for decorative, or is it meant to convey emptiness and frivolity. It can also hide further treasures.

Miles’ world is populated with women. All These Women, after a 1964’s movie by Ingmar Bergman, was the title of an exhibition dedicated to his oeuvre in 2011. Women are his life & obsession, and his primary inspiration.

Aldridge’s body of work is a case study of women. The fact that his female figures look more like mannequins than real women, always made me think of them as icons or symbols of the infinite range of colours of femininity. Miles’ women are actresses playing on a theater stage. They embody a character or a typology of femininity that he is interested in exploring and portraying.

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Actress #6 © Miles Aldridge 2012

Miles Aldridge is a talented artist who made his way into photography and fashion after studying Illustration at Central St Martins in London. This clearly reflects into his practice: sketches are an integral part to his process. Miles is a storyteller who uses images instead of words and creates storyboards that constitute the starting point of his photo shoots. Each scene is staged to perfection in very elaborate settings where every detail is carefully considered.

His hard work and commitment is paying off and 2013 is proving to be a turning point in his career. The launch of Aldridge’s portfolio Carousel has recently been celebrated with a very exclusive dinner at the alluring Chateau Marmont during the first edition of Paris Photo LA. Up on a hill in West

Hollywood, a rendez-vous of writers, celebrities, art professionals, and friends took place until the wee hours of the night to fête the new project: Brett Easton Ellis, Courtney Love, Charlotte Rampling... and the haunting presence in the hotel, of Lady Gaga, who expressed her appreciation and interest. Carousel, as well as the book I Only Want You To Love Me, is a selection of Aldridge’s key images whose graphic presentation has been curated by British designer Paul Neal.

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The Ecstasy #2 © Miles Aldridge 2002

The highlight of the season will certainly be his solo show at Somerset House, which opens in July in conjunction with his exhibition at Brancolini Grimaldi Gallery. Somerset House celebrates Aldridge with a major retrospective that is going to be the largest of his work ever organized that will also include some unpublished material as well as notebooks, sketches, Polaroids, and magazines.

Scheduled to overlap with the show at Aldridge’s London gallery, both exhibitions will offer a different point of view and insight on the artist’s life in photography. For Aldridge, much more is certainly to come, and it will only be further success to put under his belt...

 

Cover Photograph I Only Want you To Love Me © Miles Aldridge 2011

Elisa Badii holds a B.A. in Art History—Major in Photography—from the University of Florence, Italy, and she is starting an M.A in Critical Writing at the Royal College of Art in London in September. Elisa began her adventure in the art world at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris as Assistant to the Director of the Photography Archive. She then pursued her interest in publishing in Germany where she became Manager of the Photo-book programme at Steidl Publishers. Elisa started experiment with words at Le Journal de la Photographie and she is now contributing writer at Musée Magazine, This is Tomorrow and Conveyor Magazine. Elisa is currently Artist Liaison and Gallery Manager at Brancolini Grimaldi.

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