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Glen Helfand on Susannah Slocum

Susannah Slocumís practice is concentrated on photographic portraiture with a personalized twist. Her formally straightforward images depict people who share something that is not immediately apparent. Are they a group or fierce individualists? A series of pictures depicting solitary hip young people, for example, finds a pervasive fashion aesthetic, yet the actual linkage relates to something closer to the skin. Another series finds the artist looking for a connection between a group of men based on their given first name.

The internet is one method Slocum uses to find her subject, though as a communication of our age, it provides only a disembodied sense of connection. This web-based strategy is something that contemporary photographers face as a challenge to use effectively. Slocum manages the challenge with an approach that exudes a dry wit and a curious sense of yearning, as a way to understand that elusive thing called the human condition. These are not pictures that are warm and fuzzy, but neither are they the fashionably cool, ambiguously formal portraits where the faces are nearly impossible to read. Slocumís interest in ambiguity is grounded in the ways people compose themselves and what they communicate about themselves subconsciously. Itís rich terrain, and Slocum mines it with an original, unerring eye.