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Jenny Bolis

Precision and restraint characterise the works of emerging Melbourne photographer Jenny Bolis. Whether the subject is architectural or figural, her images display a profound understanding of, and affinity for, construction and the articulation of space. Taking the medium of black and white photography with all its seduction and associated connotations (film noir, punk and gothic aesthetics, fashion and crime-scene photography), Bolis composes and crops her images with intent, creating austere yet potent, minimalist works.

Her practice has grown with a respect for the ideals of the Bauhaus movement: the amalgamation of designer and artist, and the interplay and ultimate unification of all art forms are concepts at the heart of Bauhaus. In her roles as a graphic designer and art director, Bolis works in collaboration with other professionals and clients, gaining an (understanding of the power plays and psychology of selling, as well as insider-knowledge of the artifice used in fashion and advertising imagery.

In the 2003 series Buildings are Lonely People, Bolis set immaculate female figures within the space of brutal architecture. In these works the photographer’s composition and cropping often dislocates limbs and bodies from their heads, obscuring faces and heightening a sense of emotional isolation or disconnection. The idealised yet unattainable woman has continued as a feature throughout Bolis’ practice, most recently in the series The Empty Sea. This body of work draws further on the histories of a mythologised female form, referencing the siren or mermaid. More overtly eroticised and narrative driven than her earlier works, the viewer is given more clues in this series and more space for open-ended interpretation and symbolism. While the artist continues to exercise restraint and control and her works still imply some other secret or hidden inner space and psychology, a certain vulnerability behind the impenetrable façade creeps in.

(Jenny Bolis 2007; Text by Rosemary Forde)