Double Life. Photographs by Kelli Connell. Text by Susan Bright. Interview by Dawoud Bey.
The portraits of Kelli Connell (born 1974) appear to document a relationship between two women. Their idiom looks familiar: a young couple caught up in everyday moments of pleasure and reflection-a picnic in the park, playing pool in a bar, taking a bubble bath together. The first flicker of unease comes as soon as the viewer registers the similarity of the two subjects, who seem to be twins-and incestuous twins at that. In fact, Connell has photographed the same model portraying both of the women and then digitally combined the two images so seamlessly that not a trace remains of their construction. Connell has been at the forefront of artists using digital technologies for the past decade, but her art is not about Photoshop, and the photographs in Double Life extend far beyond their duplicity into larger and more complex issues of identity and visual rhetoric. Connell has a canny eye for the documentary look, as she tells an interviewer: “I tried to infuse my images with the sorts of subtle portrait techniques that made for powerful documentary photos, hoping to figure out how to make my work look more like true documentation of two women in a scene, even though they have never been together at the same time.”