St Louis, MO
3/19/15 3:44 PM
Children make irresistible subjects for photographic portraiture: they are beings in transition, familiar yet unknown, entirely narcissistic but not necessarily comfortable with inhabiting the center of a staged picture. In “School Portrait Series,” Sarah-Marie Land poses them at home, dressed in their school uniforms, a mixture of plaid tunics and business casual. Details matter immensely here, and sometimes they go awry. Detractions include reflections in the glass of a framed piece of art, the slight blurring of body parts, a repeated head position or facial expression. Other awkward moments are revelatory—evidence of a house under renovation mismatched with a luxurious vase of lilies, a grand backdrop of sheer curtains behind a girl about to cry, a pair of twin boys whose bodies align such that one’s leg seems to come out of the other’s shirtsleeve. These surrealities, accidents of the environment and the angle captured by a photographer smart enough to recognize them, add to complex portraits of young people in the mysterious and ongoing process of forming themselves.