Deborah Turbeville Fashion photography Photographic legacy Artistic exploration Handmade image creation Feminine gaze Photo Elysée Lausanne Experimental approach Collage techniques Narrative sequences Artisanal craftsmanship Enigmatic allure Contemporary photography Visual storytelling Norms in photography
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November 14, 2023
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Breaking Boundaries: Deborah Turbeville's Handmade Vision in Photography

The legacy of Deborah Turbeville (1932-2013) defies easy classification. The American photographer, whose unique signature style exudes timeless beauty, melancholy, and a haunting patina, left an indelible mark on the world of fashion photography. For over four decades, Turbeville's work has captivated audiences with its enigmatic allure, challenging traditional norms and establishing her as a pioneer in the field.

A retrospective of Turbeville's explorations, prominently featuring her distinctly feminine gaze, is currently on display at Photo Elysée, Lausanne. The exhibition sheds light on a career that embraced the handmade aspect of image creation, a departure from her contemporaries. Unlike her peers, Turbeville deliberately played with her images, employing techniques like photocopying, cutting, scratching, and pinning prints together, adding words in the margins and crafting narrative sequences, thus reappropriating the medium of image, bringing strong intentionality in her work.

The exhibition reveals her unique artistic practice that delves into the heart of photographic materiality. Her experimental approach of collage, repetition of patterns, added texts, and manually torn photographs really put her in her own category as an artists, exploring way more than fashion photography as she originally intended to.
In a recent interview with Dazed, curator Nathalie Herschdorfer discussed the objectives of the exhibition, emphasizing Turbeville's distinct language in fashion photography. Her use of damaged, scratched black-and-white prints, assembled and collaged on kraft paper, showcases an artist deeply invested in experimentation and pushing the boundaries of the medium.

The public can expect to be enchanted by Turbeville's craftsmanship, transcending the pristine images commonly associated with contemporary photography. The physicality of her collages, often presented in vintage metal frames, adds an artisanal, timeless quality, inviting viewers to explore a world where Turbeville carved her own path, challenging not only the norms of her time but also leaving an enduring impact on the history of photography.

Deborah Turbeville's work is currently exhibited at Photo Elysée, Lausanne, and will be there until February 25th 2024.

Image courtesy of Collection MUUS © Deborah Turbeville/MUUS Collection


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