A few weeks ago, I went to the Richard Young Gallery for the exhibition “Behind Closed Doors”, a photography series by Louise Bobbe. The mostly large-scale photographs depict scenes of female nudes in intimate moments, ‘behind closed doors’ as the title already suggests. The women remain anonymous by not showing their faces and therefore putting the viewer in the position of the voyeur.
I was surprised, when a gallery assistant told me that most of the women in the pictures are already in their thirties. After leaving the gallery I wondered why they appeared so much younger to me. Is it because we are used to seeing only young and sometimes very young women in erotic poses or contexts? Do women just look younger in their thirties than they used to?
The intimacy in Louise Bobbe’s photos is remarkable intense, something I have not seen being achieved in other photographer’s work. It might have to do with the fact that she knows all her models personally or is even friends with them and it might also be, because she is a woman, who takes erotic pictures of other women. Maybe it is also, because the women are a little bit older and more relaxed about their bodies and sexuality. There seems to be something about women’s body consciousness when they are in their thirties that is different from younger women.
The pictures are taken in the surroundings of a home: the models pose in bathrooms, in front of chairs or on dinner tables which adds a narrative element to it. One wonders what happens in the picture or what has happened before.These narrative elements remind a bit of Guy Bourdin’s work, who was one of the first fashion photographers to give advertising campaigns an ‘artsy’ touch by provoking people to think about the story behind the picture.
The exhibition is over already but you can see most of the pictures here and as Louise Bobbe has previously exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, so we probably have a chance to see more of her work soon.
Photo: Courtesy of Richard Young Gallery