Jen Bekman Photographer of the Month: Kelly Shimoda


Image credit: from I guess you don’t want to talk to me anymore by Kelly Shimoda

Twice a month, Sara Distin from Jen Bekman Projects, Inc. — which includes Jen Bekman Gallery, 20×200 and Hey, Hot Shot! — contributes a post to Flavorwire about an artist or photographer. (If you’re an emerging photographer, you might be interested to know that the Hey, Hot Shot! 2009 Competition is now open!)

Photographer Kelly Shimoda is a JBP all-star. As a Hot Shot and early 20×200 artist, she has repeatedly given us reason to look where we normally wouldn’t.

With her newest project, I guess you don’t want to talk to me anymore, Shimoda shows us all what we don’t often get to see: the amusing, mundane, mysterious, charming, heart-breaking, and hysterical text messages of strangers.

The series is the antithesis to those annoying Dentyne ads on the subway. The ads, if you have been fortunate enough not to see them, tell you to “power down, log-off, unplug… and make face time.” They depict people snuggling, kissing, and whispering in each others’ ears, instead of Facebooking, texting, instant messaging, Tweeting, etc. The campaign equals the slightly offensive idea that the latter have replaced the former.

Shimoda’s records of text messages unintentionally, but effectively, upend the ads: they are proof of person to person relationships and suggest various incarnations of before and after scenes. They are evidence of our obsession with, and utter reliance on, alternate forms of communication, as well as, our unceasing need — in spite of what Dentyne seems to think — for “face time.”

Really, you can’t have one without the other, as seen in example A: “Aaron you are a devil. I am shocked at my behavior. You brought out a weird side of me, and my neck is bruised. But I can’t say it wasn’t fun.”

Or can you? Among the messages, you’ll find the classic: “Who is this?” and the cold: “Remember how i said we didnt have time to break up before i left? Wrong.” Ouch.

While I’d be one to argue that email, cell phones and all of their applications and services have worked to bring us a little bit closer, a little bit faster, making the best of us and our intentions to be in touch, better, they can also make the worst in us, worse. Where it gets ugly is where the reading gets good; we’re quickly confronted with the paradigms of modern life. Shimoda does well to not limit the texts and their contexts, recording the gamut of communications in her photographs.

To see more, visit her blog, and, of course, make sure you’re signed up for the 20×200 newsletter!

– Sarah Distin