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The Artist Using Photography and Book Making as a Tool of Recovery

For photographer Lorena Turner, art is a path to transformation and transcendence that lies in wait, forever ready when we are. With the camera as her guide, Turner began to tell a story of discovery out of the darkness and towards the light.

Turner’s adopted mother was an alcoholic who verbally and physically abused both her husband and daughter. On September 26, 2016, her mother – also named Lorena – awoke, drank wine all morning and vodka all afternoon, then battered her husband until he called the police. Two officers arrived, removed her from the home she had lived in for 25 years, and put in an assisted living facility for people with dementia, where she currently lives.

Turner, then 47, had been estranged from her parents for 30 years. Following the incident, Turner started rebuilding her relationship with her father, who she now sees once a month, and visits her mother, who does not recognize her but tells her that she loves her. At the same time, Turner came upon Gregory Halpern’s photo book Zzyzx, and became inspired to create A Habit of Self Deceit, a book that looks at the landscapes, people, and objects of life that we may see as mundane, if not downright ugly. Here, Turner shares her insights and experiences creating this quiet, intense, and powerful book.

Fascinating Portraits of Michael Jackson Impersonators

Lorena Turner

Michael Jackson representers are both male and female, and range in age as well as ethnicity, race and socio-economic backgrounds. Their personal and professional aspirations are tied to their perception of Michael Jackson as an artist and humanitarian, as well as his core message of L.O.V.E.
Lorena Turner

LA and NYC-based photographer and university professor Lorena Turner captures the persona and passion of impersonators in her series The Michael Jacksons. Turner discovered the devoted subculture in 2009 when she attended Jackson’s memorial at Harlem’s Apollo Theater where dozens of look-alikes and tribute artists turned up to perform. The crowd went wild over the numerous embodiments of Jackson as if the man himself were present. This intense frenzy inspired Turner to find those whose lives revolve around becoming the “Man in the Mirror.”

Posting ads through Craigslist and other sites, Turner discovered a zealous community of varying Michaels. Whether working Hollywood Boulevard or experimenting in a Southern small town, MJ performers take their personas very seriously and are surprisingly supportive of one another. Some spend a great deal of money on clothes and makeup while others dedicate hours to embody him through gestures and dance. Turner pinpoints Jackson’s ability to transcend race, gender, and a wide range of cultural stigmas as the reason for his universal appeal. The Michael Jacksons represents a company of people who not only cherish the king of pop’s memory, but are deeply committed to keeping the thrill and magic alive forever.

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