Rosalind Solomon: Marigny in her Mother’s Marilyn Monroe gown, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1993
The young woman Rosalind Solomon took a picture of in 1993 in New Orleans is looking directly into the camera. She is wearing a long, strapless gown made of lustrous fabric and equally as striking shoes; her loose hair falls over her shoulders. The photograph was probably taken in her bedroom; part of a bed is visible behind the Baroque curved sofa she is sitting on. There is a window in the background and a mirrored dresser to the left with a serving cart in front of it. Marigny in Her Mother’s Marilyn Monroe Gown is the title of the photograph. In contrast to the dark room, the camera’s flash causes her to virtually glow. The scene brings a stage situation or a film set to mind. Marigny, the daughter, becomes a starlet; she slips into a role, appropriating someone else’s identity; she continues her mother’s dream. But it is not the real world of film with directors, other actors, makeup artists, and countless admirers she is surrounded by, but a private space. In this context, the doll in the background seems like a relic from childhood that on the one hand makes reference to Marigny’s very young age, and on other is a mirror-image comment about the artificial, fictitious world in which she imagines herself.
“The idea of masking has always been prevalent in my work. I am always looking to find the innerness of the person who is before my camera. I am interested in the mask, but that is not what I am looking for. There are some people that it is impossible to unmask and those are not the people whom I most like to photograph.” This is how the American photographer Rosalind Solomon explains the way she looks at her subjects in an interview conducted in 2003. While Solomon reflects the outward appearance of a person in her portraits, at the same time she exposes it as a background and allows making conclusions about his or her state of mind. Her photographs aim for an authentic image of the given situation free of clichés and testify to the photographer’s intimacy with and respect for those she portrays. Rosalind Solomon’s photographic oeuvre is influenced by prominent representatives of American photography: Weegee, Lisette Model, whom she had private lessons with in the seventies in New York, Helen Levitt, and Diane Arbus. They share a preference for an individual gaze at people’s everyday lives. What they all have in common is a spontaneous, keen eye for detail; a revealing view of people and of the unique qualities between the poles of everyday life and what is generally accepted by society.
Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur