How to represent sex as a place of ecstasy rather than pornography? How to transcend the unavoidable physicality of the sexual act, sometimes tender, sometimes violent, to reach what Diana Michener calls “the place of communion … the unknown, the cosmic”?
Michener initially considered depicting live models for this book, yet finally decided to photograph stills from pornographic films, transforming the hyperreality of the sex industry, its tarnished colored gloss, into something more ambiguous, timeless and expressive. The figurative forms of sex are often (just) recognizable in Michener’s black-and-white pictures: a kiss, breasts, entangled limbs; but just as often they are not. Bodies are simplified and blurred, seeping into abstraction and darkness, hinting at yet never embracing explicitness. In images both graphic and impressionistic, Michener’s self-declared goal steadfastly remains “to transform into the visual what is emotional and mental.”
Born in Boston in 1940, Diana Michener holds a Bachelor of Arts from Barnard College in New York and later studied with Lisette Model at New York’s New School for Social Research. Michener has exhibited internationally, including a retrospective at the Maison Européene de la Photographie in Paris in 2001. Her books with Steidl include the award-winning Dogs, Fires, Me (2005), 3 Poems (2006), Sweethearts (2009) and Figure Studies (2011) A Song of Life (2018) and TRANCE (2020).
Diana Michener: Twenty-eight Figure Studies
Text by Diana Michener
Published by Steidl
Book Design: Diana Michener, Duncan Whyte, Gerhard Steidl
60 pages, 28 images
10.5 x 9.5 in. / 27 x 24 cm
Black and white
Open spine softcover in a sleeve
US$ 35.00 / € 30.00