Mona Lisas of the Suburbs

The other day, I received a beautiful new photo book from my friend Joerg Colberg of Conscientious blog fame. You may not know, but Joerg is also a publisher, whose mission is to put out original and challenging monographs through his cleverly named imprint Meier und Müller, the two most common surnames found in German telephone books.

The title "Mona Lisen der Vorstädte" which translates to "Mona Lisas of the Suburbs" refers to the work of Ute and Werner Mahler, a wife and husband team who travelled from Iceland to Ukraine making large format portraits of that most enduring European archetype: the girl of ambiguous beauty, and a face whose secrets are tucked safely away behind her bemused gaze.

The figures are framed by gray suburban backgrounds of the most generic and unmistakably European style. But each composition is carefully arranged, mating its subject to the landscape in a way that animates the indeterminate spaces in which they are posed, and beckons the viewer into the mysterious no man's land separating what we think we know about a person when we look at her portrait, and what we can never know.

A very interesting new photo book that you should order for your collection!