We all think about our mortality but cannot imagine growing old. Our society is obsessed with freezing time and avoiding inevitable death and decay for as long as possible. Vee Speers’s latest body of photo-based art, aptly titled Immortal, plays on these age-old sensibilities and timeless longings while considering the very contemporary convergence of similar ideas, ideals and forms that have invaded our consciousness in our media-driven, technology-rich consumer cultures.
At once alluring and disquieting, these portraits of naked beautiful youths are set against backdrops of Eden-like natural beauty, or scenes of post-apocalyptic destruction. These Immortals are real people, young and beautiful, but they seem isolated, exposed and vulnerable, trapped, distant, on guard, defiant, all alone in a strange land, and confronted by echoes of subliminal fears and insecurities.
With the smooth gloss sheen of fashion-model perfection and an air of computer-generated artificiality, Speers has created a new world that merges Mona Lisa charm and mystery, with the melancholy of Dorian Gray, and the 3D cartoon poignancy of the movie Avatar.
The surface is loaded with reference both to classical art and to the airbrushed Photoshop perfection of youthful beauty that has become the everyday obsession of western culture. These Immortals are all like tragic fallen angels, eyes opened with animal intelligence, looking out onto an uncertain future, not even aware of how perfectly beautiful they appear to be right now.