Anna Gaskell received critical acclaim for her series of photographs entitled Wonder
that were loosely based on the events described in Lewis Carroll's story Alice in Wonderland
. Gaskell cast identical twins as Alice and directed their poses and performances to create a striking visual reinterpretation of wonderland through the moments of Alice's physical transformation. The combination of surreal subjects and sharp, jewel-like colors convey the heightened visual perception of dream-like states.
Gaskell's new series Hide
is her most radical and abstract to date and appears to be inspired by the Brothers Grimm story The Magic Donkey
- a macabre tale about a girl who crafts a costume made from animal hides in order to escape the advances of her father. The title of the series, may reference the children's game 'hide and seek' as well as the split personality Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. Hide
almost certainly refers to the literal skin or hide that marks the boundary between the inside and outside; the imaginary and real as well as the self and other.
, Gaskell continues to cast teenage girls as the protagonists in her photographs emitting a nightmarish atmosphere of foreboding and thinly veiled violence. She draws on film in her extreme manipulation of camera angles and depths of field; the photographs often include exaggerated close-ups - figures are cropped at the edge of a scene and action frequently takes place in the distance. Her uncanny images recall psychological horror films like Carrie
, Sister my Sister
, All About Eve
and The Exorcist
Gaskell also draws on other sources - one image recalls Mantegna's painting The Dead Christ
with the bold foreshortening of the feet and legs. Similarly, the de-familiarization of female subjects through visual distortion and the multiplication of body parts strongly echo the uncanny and surreal dolls of Hans Bellmer. The young girls are never seen as discrete individuals but rather as distorted, doubled or broken up into pieces as though through a thoroughly shattered looking glass.
Biography courtesy of Casey Kaplan Gallery, New York, NY, USA
Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT, USA (1993-1995)
School of The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA (1990-1992)
Bennington College, Bennington, VT, USA (1986-1990)
Nancy Graves Grant for Visual Arts, Nancy Graves Foundation, New York, NY, USA (2002)
Citibank Private Bank Photography Prize, Citibank, London, England (2000)