Marjorie Salvaterra’s images are immediately cinematic. The surreal, black-and-white photos would seem at home in the universe of “Une Femme Mariée,” Jean-Luc Godard’s 1964 French drama. Mix in a heavy dose of expressive absurdity à la artists-turned-filmmakers Salvador Dali and Man Ray, and Salvaterra’s frames could function as stills from a visually stunning, if not entirely fictional movie.
The series, “Her,” channels this sentiment perfectly. Nude women with impressive curls lay face down in the grass, their black heels puncturing the view. Faceless figures and theatrically coiffed characters wear everything from straight jackets to nothing at all, staring defiantly into the camera in one photograph while hiding their faces behind dark umbrellas in another.
The scenes, despite their bizarre subject matter, manage to transform alien women in deliberately chosen landscapes into eerily familiar narratives. Coupled with the series’ statement, themes drop into focus. Fear of abandonment, fear of failure, fear of living an unfulfilled life juxtapose feelings of pride — in the ability to balance, press on and yearn for more.
“I am a decent woman. A pretty good wife — with a great therapist, otherwise I would’ve screwed this one up way too many times. A mother — I think this one I do best except between the hours of 6:15 and 7:30 p.m. and certain whole days at a time. A daughter — I was a pretty terrible daughter growing up. I’m starting to get the hang of it now that I’m a parent. A good sister. And lastly a friend. To some, the best and to others, impossibly guarded”