The month of spooks, October, will be where I introduce a photographer I found a few years ago. The photographer has that spooky, haunted edge to her images, which is why she is perfect for this post.
Denise Grunstein is one of the most well known and respected Swedish photographers and her images speak to you in a very chilling way. Grunstein was born in 1950 in Helsinki and now lives and works in Stockholm.
I found little information about the photographer herself. However, her photography is still worth a look. Her collection of work can be viewed here.
In discussing her work, I find the misty images featuring scarecrow like dolls incredibly freaky. The hooded figures lack emotion and identity, which leads me to believe she intends these lifeless figures to be surrounded by fear and questioning.
The pink tutu, netted skirts, large coats, funny masks and props remind me of Halloween night itself.So many times have I raided my grandma’s attic for strange items of clothing so that I can piece them together with oversized shoes and fake blood to scare my neighbours.
Grunstein’s images with the smoke and scarecrow dolls all seem very fancy dress and intimidating, just like the trick or treaters that ring our doorbells on the 31st October.
A lot of her exhibition work follows thesame unmistakable spooky feeling. Grunstein tries to signify a sense of loss and loneliness within her work. The way the people’s faces are covered by scarves, rags or hair lead me to believe they are uncomfortable with their appearance as if they are scared to be who they truly are. Even her fashionista style work has hidden faces and creates hair-raising chills.
Many of the environments her models are placed within seem abandoned, which again adds an uncomfortable and chilling atmosphere.
The majority of the models Grunstein uses are female, suggesting some feminist accusation. It could be that the hidden female faces connotes the suppression of women, how we were once (and possibly still, some may argue) not heard or looked upon for advice. I guess the question can linger in the air as to whether she is foregoing down the road of feminist activism within her work.
Her more recent work moves towards a more simplistic air yet still containing a feminine, lonely and eerie atmosphere. The lighting in her new pieces has also altered. Her images are now brighter and clearer, lacking the mist and greyscale like her advertising pieces.
I am fascinated by the work of Denise Grunstein and hope to discover more of her nightmarish photographs in the future. Maybe this year my Halloween costume can play homage to her zombie like models in the misty images.