Sometimes all it takes is one small shift -- one thing elongated, compressed, skewed or erased entirely -- to transform a familiar image into something altogether alien.
London-based artist Eva Stenram opts for the latter in her series "Parts," erasing the majority of vintage pin-up photos until only a single leg remains. Left in its original position, the disembodied limb leaves the viewer to imagine the original pose of the model, in what feels more like a crime scene than an erotic cutout.
Stenram originally purchased 1960s pin-up photo negatives from auction houses online, then digitally manipulated the images to crop out all the excess save for one stiletto-ed limb. "The leg becomes a kind of prop or decoration within the interior," Stenram explains in her statement. "We can use our own imagination to try to piece together the original position of the model within the pictures."
In the 1930s, German artist Hans Bellmer conducted a similar visual experiment, subverting the image of children's dolls by dismembering their parts and photographing their realistic remains. Bellmer crafted surreal, black-and-white visions at once unsettling and unsettlingly erotic, all with materials readily available in an infant's bedroom.
Stenram was inspired by Bellmer's taste for the uncanny, incorporating a hint of Francesca Woodman's knack for toppling domestic spaces. With the protagonists removed, Stenram's photos invite the eye to linger on more unexpected details: the fuzz of a carpet, the cold tiles of a fireplace, a discarded cardigan, the tacky pattern of a sofa cushion.
"In 'Parts,' the removal of most of the model emphasizes the stillness of the photograph," Stenram continued. "The leg has a tension (it is not a prosthetic, nor is it a dead amputated limb), a readiness to move, but is caught within the moment of the photograph."
Stenram's images transform the comforts of home -- and for some, of sexual yet safe imagery -- into a site and sight of strangeness.