There it is, set out like a kid’s picture book, with thick cardboard pages, brightly coloured prints and no words. The cover image, a portrait of a blonde boy could also come across as infantile – if it wasn’t for those big pouty glossy red lips. Our perception is questioned, our curiosity awoken and Elias Wessel has our full attention: his new book ‘There Must Be More To Life’ is out now, published by Norman Beckmann Verlag. It is all about self-discovery and reinvention, and of course Amanda Lepore.
Amanda Lepore performed in front of Elias Wessel’s camera at the Jane Hotel in New York City. She appears alternately humorous, mournful, glamorous, innocent, and sexy, presenting exaggerations of the everyday (never in terms of her appearance, her she remains untouched as her perfect self). The images sometimes have a slight pornographic vibe, however they do fall into, even rather quickly and softly, the funny and surreal.
The artbook conceptualized as a children-picture book in close cooperation between the artist and book designer Philipp Hubert at Hubert & Fischer, feels like a theatrical play staged in four acts: the floral curtains are raised, she is by herself, on the phone, spends the evening lounging on the sofa. Curtain down. What is she swallowing? Next act with interior introduction. She is no longer by herself. Everything remains just as unapproachable. Close-ups of her face and the male visitor. Cue final scene, opened with the sequins on her dress. She has put on her Sunday best. Her little dinner companion places his hand on her knee as if he were proudly presenting his new bicycle. Flowers, final curtain.
Admittedly, this is a somewhat trivial description, but as Ignacio Oreamuno, Executive Director and Curator of the Art Directors Club Gallery, New York states in his foreword: ‘the meaning of an artwork is in the eye of the beholder’. The foreword is presented in a thin black and white supplementary booklet, which also includes a preface and an interview with Amanda Lepore, which completes the book with a wonderful contrast.
Elias Wessel – considered one of the most remarkable young German photo artists – staged the transsexual superstar back in November 2011 and exhibited the project as large-scale colour images at the Art Directors Club Gallery in New York, September 2012.
Elias Wessel: There Must Be More To Life / Es muss im Leben mehr als alles geben
Norman Beckmann Verlag & Design, 26 pages (Cardboard book), 24 pages (Textbook), Text: German / English
ISBN: 978-3-939028-40-6 Price: 27,90 EUR www.theremustbemoretolife.com