the photographs of formento+formento
“the world is full of fictional characters
looking for their stories.” – Diane Arbus
October 9th-31st, 2012
Artist Reception, Thursday, October 11th
As read about in Londonist …
In November 2009, like characters from American mythology, New York based photography team BJ and Richeille Formento lit out for the territory.
Hauling the silver airstream trailer which would serve as living quarters, make-up room and wardrobe for the next five months, they embarked on an epic road trip which would take them across 25 states as they recreated their singular interpretation of a great nation and its people sliding towards recession.
The results of this epic road trip are here to be enjoyed, admired – and thought upon. This extraordinary collection, which draws on the legacy of classic American cinema as much as it references the haunting characters and locations of Edward Hopper, is the realisation of the combined visions of BJ and Richeille Formento – though you may also detect stylistic nuances of late 20th century iconic photographers such as Cindy Sherman, or Mary Ellen Mark and Annie Leibovitz both of whom BJ assisted earlier in his career.
The technique this husband and wife team employed to shoot these pictures is as adventurous as the images themselves. Locations were scouted en route and the subjects they photographed were women often encountered on the same day that the image was created. The heroines of these powerful, edgy photographs may be strong or intensely vulnerable and often are frozen at one of life’s decisive moments. They are, to use Diane Arbus’s quote, fictional characters looking for their stories.
The isolation of many of these characters and the flash-lit locations which hint at a Hopper-like brooding mystery beyond the pool of light may suggest the precariousness of present days, when people are, as BJ Formento comments, “losing homes, losing their families. I wanted our work to show that.”
Circumstance captures America in uncertain times, both culturally and economically. Resonances from lost golden ages abound in these evocative, noirish creations: buildings in decay, neon signs abandoned in the desert, women ‘all dressed up with nowhere to go’. There’s real sympathy and understanding here and an elegiac mournfulness for days of splendour that have proved as transient as the paintwork on the Formentos’ settings.
BJ Formento was born in Hawaii and grew up in the Philippines. After receiving his BFA in Photography from the Academy of Arts University in California, he moved to New York and assisted Richard Avedon, Mary Ellen Mark, Annie Leibovitz, and studied with Eugene Richards and Arnold Newman. Since 2001, he has shot for a host of publications and advertising clients, while continuing his personal work. Richeille Formento was born in London and attended the prestigious Central St Martins College of Art before working as an art director and designer in the fashion industry. The couple met in 2005 and combined forces to open a photo library called Eyecandy Images which distributes images that straddle the worlds of commercial and fine art, while formento + formento was created to facilitate fine art projects.