Sometimes, a photograph intended for a glossy fashion magazine or advertising campaign transcends its original purpose. “Different Distances: Fashion Photography Goes Art,” an exhibition presented by the Consulate General of Sweden and the Swedish Institute at Aperture, features Denise Grünstein, Julia Hetta, Martina Hoogland Ivanow, Julia Peirone, and Elisabeth Toll, whose work blurs the line between fashion and art photography. “Most of the time, straightforward fashion photography has a ‘best before’ date because it’s meant to be in a magazine or for a campaign that month or that season of the year. It’s a very fast image in that way,” said curator Greger Ulf Nilson. “I didn’t want to do an exhibition of that because it’s kind of hard to show this kind of photography, which is meant for something else to be on the wall.”
Of course, from Man Ray to Irving Penn, there have always been exceptions to that rule, and there is a long tradition of interplay between art and fashion. Grünstein, for one, sees no need to separate the two. “It’s actually only the purpose of the pictures and the way they are presented that define whether they art or fashion pictures. The subject matter could be identical,” she said via email. “In my opinion fashion and art pictures can get inspiration from one another and that can be very vitalizing.”
While all five photographers split their time between the art and fashion worlds, they came to those worlds in different ways. Ivanow, for instance, began her career in fashion and then gradually became more involved in art world. Hetta, on the other hand, started as an art photographer before getting into fashion. Regardless of their career paths, Nilson said the photographers represented in the exhibition share a narrative and timeless quality in their work. “When I was looking, I found these five photographers that I thought had something more to say than just the average fashion photographer. They were in a way doing something more,” he said.