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Choreographed Visions of Faceless Figures in Suits

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Ben Zank’s SUITS is a series of bold images, full of monochromatic tension that provokes an unassailable sense of intrigue and suspense. Faceless figures are suited, anonymous, their actions choreographed and opaque.

Zank, inspired by the surrealist paintings of René Magritte, adopts the symbols of the period – a wide-brimmed hat, a bicycle – to create images whose graphic execution drives the series as a whole. He explains his emphasis on “concept over technique”: displeased with the light and colour of the original images, he changed them to black and white to “forget the impurities of the execution and just focus on the subject.”

Given that the series is so visually consistent, it is surprising that Zank shot the images separately, as part of other projects. Having noticed their distinction from his other work, he decided to present them together. The results are striking, creating a noir dreamscape that raises questions about the nature of the symbols deployed: are they an allegory? Why does the artist choose to obscure the faces in the images using rope, or leaves? Can they be “read” in some way not immediately apparent?

Zank resists such questions. With Barthesian “death of the author” reserve, he explains: “photography is, above all, a visual experience. Each image is it’s own little novel, but I’ll never officially attach a meaning to it. I’m fine with people coming to their own opinions. It makes things more fun.”

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All images © Ben Zank

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