10 April — 31 May, 2015
It began seven years ago with the exhibition “The Birthday Party”, featuring children on their way to an imaginary birthday party. Now they are older. But these are no uncertain teenagers we meet in Vee Speers’ series “Bulletproof”. They were already strong then, when they were small. Now they are equipped for an unknown future. Strong and independent they are ready to face the world. Protected against the world.
arms them for life and the battles that await them
In the series “Bulletproof”, Vee Speers uses the same models but they have left the birthday party. They are older and find themselves in the transitional stage of adolescence, a time of doubt as well as assertiveness. Vee Speers’ immortalises moments of fragile youth and beauty. However, their postures, expressions and gazes exude strength and pride. Here, there is no timidity, no vulnerability.
Vee Speers’ arms them for life and the battles that await them. A gun, an axe, a horn, a combat helmet, a bullfighter’s costume. She prepares them for an unknown future, empowers them and enables them to defend themselves against human folly and hatred, perhaps also against their own demons and emotional turmoil. They are invincible in their costumes and masks. It is they themselves who dictate the rules.
Perhaps the images are also a commentary on the gender roles that we are given early in life. Possibly a reminder of power and war and our need to escape into the world of fantasy and an invitation to re-enter our own experiences and associations, from childhood, adolescence and parenthood.
She dresses them, styles them, sometimes with masks. The painterly portraits, the dramatic touch and the unique palette of colour is characteristic for Vee Speers’ works.
She does not like to follow the crowd. She prefers to seduce with her images that are at once disturbing and beautiful, images that balance between fantasy and reality, the obvious and the unexpected. Each image contains elements that evoke conflicting emotions that surprise the viewer.
Born in Australia, Vee Speers studied art and photography at the Queensland College of Art in Brisbane before embarking on a career as a photographer for ABC Television in Sydney in the 1980s. In 1990 she relocated to Paris and began exhibiting her own art projects, which captured viewers with their dramatic imagery and unique palette of colour.
Vee Speers received her major breakthrough in 2001 with the project “Bordello” that was inspired by the decadent 1920s Paris neighbourhood around the Rue St. Denis with its nightlife and colourful personalities. The exhibition was a success and toured worldwide. Her next project, “The Birthday Party”, had an even greater impact. The exhibition has toured for several years and the eponymous book has been reprinted several times.
Vee Speers has held many solo exhibitions and participated in a great many group exhibitions. Her work has been on the cover of most of the major photographic magazines in the world, including Photo International, Images Magazine, the British Journal of Photography, and magazines such as the Sunday Times, UK.