Digressing from the ethereal, up-close-and-personal portraits that we all know and love her for, in June, Harley Weir announced news of a glossy publication, titled Paintings – which stands as her second book to be released by artist-run, publisher/design studio, Loose Joints. From the controversial Calvin Klein ad to the fetishised Balenciaga campaign, to Boundaries and Homes, Weir has embarked on a journey of artistic discovery that has corroborated her title as one of the industries most pragmatic photographers.
Known for tackling topics of sexuality, the gaze and boundaries, Weir has openly discussed her ambivalence when it comes to consent and ownership of an image: “It’s a very interesting thing to hear what a model has to say about what you did that day. And how it belongs to them, really, more than it belongs to you.” In an attempt to eliminate these problems that are associated with photographing others, Weir prohibits any form of human life from her new selection of autonomous work. By removing the presence of people from her images, these photographs show an abstract inspired side to Weir – delicately embracing the simplistic components of an image, capturing form, colour, and movement at their upmost.
“It’s a very interesting thing to hear what a model has to say about what you did that day. And how it belongs to them, really, more than it belongs to you” – Harley Weir
Desperately trying to depart from her constant battle of ‘whom does an image belong to?’ Weir simply cut out the middleman. No model, no queries with ownership. Which also erases the occurrence of over-sexualisation of her images: “I do think that my work can be overly sexualised at times.”
With the intention of being viewed out of context and therefore, void of constraints and presumptions, Paintings is a visual representation of Weir’s search for a ‘pure’ image. Creating each photograph following a set of criteria, Paintings explores the tension between the photographer and camera, lens and surface. With rich bursts of bold colour and angular shapes tearing across the page, Weir introduces her signature touch of tension to these faceless images. Continuing her practice of intimate framing and paying close attention to aesthetic formalisation, the 152-page publication shows Weir under an astonishing new light and demonstrates a profound leap in the motives behind her work.
As a project that allows her freedom and liberation from the restraints of fashion portraiture – power, permission, and ownership – Paintings has allowed Harley Weir to “encounter photography as an immediate, indulging process”. Whilst exploring the raw version of this process, Weir knocks down the constraints of a title and exercises the medium of photography by challenging it to diverge into the realms of another art form – painting.
Paintings – published by Loose Joints – is available to pre-order now