Across cultures, the Sublime Feminine or in the context of this exhibition SHE, has been associated with a spiritual force best ennobled through creative expression — beautiful, soulful, sensual and intellectual; a force which at its crux carries the greatest mystery of all, that of human creation. From a personal perspective, the Sublime Feminine has fascinated Eisler, who has sought out this interest photographically in different places and environmental spaces, a personal journey of sorts during which she has tried to trace and visually revitalize this energy, embodied in the female form, as set against the grandeur of nature.
For her first public series back in 2015, Eisler followed in the footsteps of the great painter Georgia O’Keeffe, experiencing first-hand a small part of her journey among the truly grand barren landscapes of New Mexico. The experience, haunting and vital, set against unimaginably sharp blue skies and rock-strewn valleys in shades of rust made her whisper O’Keeffe’s own words to the wind: “Such a beautiful untouched lonely feeling place, such a new part of what I call the Faraway.” Lost in time, trying to tie purpose to creative endeavor, she began a visual dialectic with the sources of her budding inspiration, whilst grasping to understand the outlines of her own poetic adventure.
Havana: Beauty and Dereliction
It is sometimes impossible to distinguish between beauty and dereliction when it comes to history, art and architecture.
In Havana, this distinction becomes even more blurred. The former Spanish colonial capital city is a UNESCO world heritage site. Preserved in time, pickled since the Cuban Revolution of 1959. Nevertheless, beauty there is aplenty, as I found on my first visit in May 2017.
It was as if I’d entered a time-warp. The city’s faded facades form some of the most wonderful Spanish colonial style architecture I’ve come across in Latin America. Photogenic people, the Cubans; they have an air of freedom born of necessity. Life’s hard, very hard. So, make the best of it! Seems to be their philosophy.
In photography, this translates into whatever you want to make out of it. Showing the face of bankrupt ideologies, the crumbling socialist visage of resistance. And the eternal spirit of goodwill that comes from shared hardships and kind fellowship amongst humans.
Defiance was the word that struck me early on in my hunt for scenes to shoot. Scenarios to craft, fashioned out of the very little that existed. I could portray an elderly grand dame, say; Mrs Alonso whose salons in her grand mansion were the talk of town in their heyday. Now, an old pensioner barely receiving $10 a month, she is reduced to living in a house with crumbling ceilings, amongst some colourful mementoes imprinted in her memory, a vintage Silvertone record player, and the odd ornaments that time’s ravages have left behind. Her class shows through, despite the not-so gentile poverty and through her choice of the French language to communicate with me. I could perhaps conjure Marcel Proust? But also a bit of magic surrealism: Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Isabelle Allende?