Sunday, December 4, 2011

No Man's Land

Must-see in Jersey at the moment is Mishka Henner's exhibition No Man's Land at Jersey Arts Centre until 10 December, part of this year's excellent Jersey Amnesty International Human Rights Festival. 

At the exhibition preview someone said that this was their favourite photograph, because the woman looks like a ghost in the landscape. 

There is something other-worldly about many of the images - women, alone or in pairs, at roadsides in Spain and Italy, probably sex workers.  This is partly because they have been captured from Google Street View, which blurs features to preserve anonymity, unintentionally creating a poignancy. 

Mishka's framing of the shots emphasizes the disparity between the women (brightly and occasionally scantily dressed) and the sometimes barren, sometimes lush roadside locations.  The women's presence is at times bold, plying for trade seated on plastic chairs, at times discreet, like icons at roadside religious shrines.

I'm a bit of a Google Earth obsessive myself so I love the layering of this work, how it explores our digital world and its liminal places, and also the stories it unearths, what it says about exploitation, surveillance and voyeurism, anonymity and transience.

Missing of course are the men, the punters and pimps, ironically alluded to in the title...

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