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Stevie Raelynn Johnson’s Intimate Portraits of Thirty Men

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Stevie Raelynn Johnson is an American artist and recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work involves exchanges she has with strangers and within her own personal relationships. Through photography and video, she explores new systems of exchange by documenting unusual interactions she constructs. In her project I did it all for you, she conducts a close examination of her own relationships, past and present, exploring the need to connect and the elements of give and take that inform each stage of connection.

The brevity of Johnson’s statement carries an almost startling weight: “I did it all for you is twenty-nine versions of the one I couldn’t forget,” she writes. In an enormous grid, thirty identically posed young men stare back at us, simultaneously intimate yet anonymous, vulnerable yet defiant. On the surface, the numerical discrepancy between the grid and Johnson’s statement begs an immediate engagement with the piece, searching through the subject’s trusting gazes for what we can only assume is the original photograph, the starting point. In the act of searching, however, the grid pulls us into a contemplation of our own relationships with others, and the immense significance a single individual can hold. By taking an outwardly personal approach, Johnson’s series quickly merges into the universal, speaking to the ubiquitous need for close personal connection.

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All images © Stevie Raelynn Johnson

This post was contributed by photographer Acacia Johnson and her student photography blog, Onward Forward.

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