Maniera came out of my fascination with Italian Mannerist painting in the sixteenth century, a mannered pictorial rendition of the human form that subsequently took hold in the French court of François I and swept forth to the Netherlands and Northern Europe. Mannerism abandoned the study of nature that defined High Renaissance pictorial concepts, embracing instead "beautiful style." Renaissance art historian, and Mannerist himself, Giorgio Vasari was a proponent of Mannerist work. A century later, art historians decried the whole unnatural attempt. Well into the art historical training of the twentieth century, Mannerism continued to be compared with Renaissance and NeoClassical periods and found woefully lacking, its exaggerations, quirky perspectives, elongations, and general championing of aesthetic effect over a naturalised one made it perverse, unintellectual, and (yes, this was stated) feminine.
This disdained perversion and femininity seemed a way, an opening, even now for battling an ever-haunting question for a female photographer: how to photograph the body without collapsing into an ogling view. I tied onto both female and male models the blown-up heads I photographed from art history textbooks and reprinted with inkjet. I planted their bodies into corners crammed with the textiles I brought from India and with artwork from University of Iowa grad students. With these two elements, I compressed space. The lusciousness of the flesh made one part of a textural glut. Male could shift into female (Nameplate). Women into boys (Strain on Virility). All ornamented for power—power of murder (Judith and Holofernes), of birth (Circles), of rape (Satyr), of love's conquer (Olympia), of rapture (Mr. Saint Theresa).
I revelled in that excess. I wish to do so again.