Pretty pictures, stockings and fox masks.
On examining Mairi Luise Tabbakh’s portfolio, three leading themes are clear: arty glamour shots, images of beautiful people and visuals celebrating the rich, the young and the wanton.
Her first slot exhibiting at London’s Imitate Modern last May was entitled Human Connections – female erotica, and an attempt to imitate Helmut Newton with all the stockings, suspenders and cute bums on the menu. I’m not saying that every self-proclaimed artistic work should be politically or socially involved, but as an art lover I’m always after some kind of statement or at least an emotion. Nudity used as Newton did was provocative, but that was last century. Now, what emotions does the image of a sexy female elicit in the art consumer? I’d guess at “Yeah, whatever.”
However, I admire both how beautiful the people the photographer surrounds herself are, and her skill at making her models look and act as though they were her friends. But again, stealing flash from Richardson and putting subjects up a white wall, or “catching” them in pseudo-natural environments falls into Instagram or editorial territory, and runs as far from fine art as you can get.
Smoking, drinking, holding guns: if one is really desperate to find meaning here, any kind of statement in Tabbakh’s photography is as a reflection of a young social media addicts’s dreams. Who wouldn’t like to have a place with that view? Who wouldn’t like to get naughty with that model holding a gun? She recreates the images from dreamers’ heads – for people with no access to the world of young, fit, rich and endlessly decadent. She shoots beautiful pictures. And maybe depicting the lifestyle of her social group is what gives her work meaning?