August 20, 2014

First Look: girl hold

An exclusive look at the photos that inspired the short film "In Real Life."

I could try to explain the inspiration behind Claire Kurylowski's short film "In Real Life," speculate on her thought-process and how she arrived at this visually-gripping portrayal of how modern women deal with and protect themselves against sexual harassment. Or I could show you the never-before-seen photo series titled "girl hold," born from a shoot Claire did that eventually grew into her film, and let her explain her vision for herself. I'll save you the secondhand analysis and let you hear it straight from the source:

"With the purchase of some pink bondage rope I had a shoot in mind, although I hadn't planned much further. It began as a short-sighted venture where I just felt like freely trying out some photography to maybe generate fresh approaches for film ideas. I was hanging out with Arvida and Hanna at the time and wanted to do a shoot with them. As we were friends, I felt this allowed for more spontaneity and the ability to follow my intuition with what came out of it. For lighting I chose simple, uneven smaller sources, or used a flash, and left backgrounds lit with practicals in order to forge an ambivalence rather than a safe clarity. There also wasn't a strict format to the shots, so I could instead capture in-between moments as the subjects unraveled further during the course of the actions. As I explained in the interview (about the short film "In Real Life") it took more shape in terms of the portrayal of the scenes and how this eventually led to a point of reference for the film."

From our interview with Claire Kurylowski:

"I did a photo shoot a few months before the film’s conception with Arvida and a friend of ours with the pink rope and some very stripped down lighting set-ups--flashlights, red bulbs--I was playing around with what could obfuscate, subvert and girl-codify these images of rope play with the female characters portrayed. I was attempting some re-imagining of normative scopic regimes of women in intimate, playful scenes. I aimed to make these images feel like quotidian, less mediated looking moments as opposed to setting them up as deviant or hardcore--with this kind of story in mind that maybe they just found a YouTube video and wanted to try it out. I guess it also has the voyeuristic tastes of a queer female audience considered and I wanted to make images that felt non cis-male authored. The aspect of the girl-coded portrait that came out of the shoot gained traction as I developed the idea for the film, this image juxtaposed in opposition to what the "How to Break Out of Zip Ties" video stands for."

See more of Claire's work here.

Written by Molly Morris