Portfolio: Beyond The Drama by Saara Mäntylä

Beyond The Drama

Saara Mäntylä

I knock on the door. A couple of unfamiliar faces appear before me. We shake hands; I enter. I look around the apartment with intent and persistence. Masked in small talk, the questions I ask them touch on sensitive matters—about love, about achieving happiness. How do they let go of a comfortable, even selfish solitude and summon the courage to fade away in someone else’s needs and desires? Or do they fade away? These people stand in my frame, bright and independent . . . yet so tuned into each other. Alas, the nuances of loving are many.

In Beyond The Drama, I examine young love and relationships in the queer community of Montréal, Canada. I found the people portrayed in the series on a quest to uncover diverse representations of textured interpersonal dynamics. The majority of the people in the series are unknown to me personally. The photographic scenes unfold in their private homes, which I light up as studios. Bare and exposed by the revealing lighting, the details in the environment are fleshed out for the viewer to investigate. Full of material dynamics, the homes I visit are like clusters of opportunities that I reshuffle and rearrange until the storytelling can be carried through the visual narrative. The scenes are made, molded, and staged. In dialogue with my subjects and the nuances of their living spaces, I create a carefully arranged visual record of each encounter. The photographic outcome is as much an embodiment of the individuals’ projections as it is of my own imagination. The stories I tell are free from structure, but laden with emotion and reflexivity. They are often liberated contemplations of myself in an outline of another.

Although such serene representations of happiness within romantic relationships are at times adorned with an almost utopian overtone, they encompass much of the multilayered social experience in the world under and for the queer gaze. As Rainer Maria Rilke puts it: “For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.”1

NOTE 1. Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, trans. M.D. Herter (New York: Norton, 1993).

Posted in From the Issue, Portfolios, Portfolios from the Issue

FROM THE ISSUE

Current Issue, Vol. 45, no. 1

PORTFOLIO
Beyond The Drama by Saara Mäntylä

PREVIOUS ISSUE
Vol. 44, no.6



PORTFOLIO
Congratulations and Celebrations by Ellen Lesperance

ONLINE EXCLUSIVES


REVIEW
Wish for Amnesia by Barbara Rosenthal


DOSSIER
Speculations and Inquiries on New Participatory Documentary Environments


DOSSIER
Toward a Theory of Participatory New Media Documentary


DOSSIER
Documentary Untethered, Documentary Becoming


DOSSIER
Collaborative Documentary Practice: Histories, Theories, Practices


EXHIBITION REVIEW
Sondra Perry: flesh out


EXHIBITION REVIEW
Zach Nader: stage blind

DOUBLE EXPOSURE

Of the Appalachian Diaspora Text by Stephen J. Quigley
Photographs by April L. O'Brien


Outside My Outdoor Shower There Is a Carnival Text by Lisa Annelouise Rentz
Photographs by Michelle Mueller
INKLIGHT
Inklight is a meeting place for words and images. We invite photographers to submit their work and writers to respond creatively. MORE…
ARTICLE SEARCH
Looking for something? Search our vast article archive by title, author, issue, or keyword. MORE…
PORTFOLIO ARCHIVE
Each issue, Afterimage invites visual artists to create a portfolio of their work. Presented here is a growing archive of these artists’ portfolios. MORE…
NOTICES
Browse hundreds of media art events, grants, fellowships, and opportunities. MORE…

BACK ISSUES
Over forty years of Afterimage back issues and individual articles are available for purchase!

PREVIOUS ISSUE
Vol. 44, no. 6

Afterimage online is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts.