Irvine Contemporary is opening a great show this Saturday at 6 PM to exhibit two talented, young photographers- Kerry Skarbakka and Marla Rutherford, both of whom were featured last year in Aperture magazine in an article entitled reGeneration: 50 Photographers of Tomorrow.


In the series The Struggle to Right Oneself, Kerry Skarbakka stages himself in scenes of losing balance and control. His arresting photographs appear at the intersection of performance and artist’s portraits, and each composition dramatizes one of the deepest themes of our moment–the sense losing balance and control both personally and socially. The photographs are actual shots of the artist in the scene with only the minimal rigging and wires used for the shot removed from the final print. The photographs also record a deep sense of risk-taking and often physical danger for the artist, who has taken falls and created physically demanding sets in the search of the right arresting image. Skarbakka extended this theme further in the performances commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in 2005, Life Goes On.


For this image, Rutherford wanted to achieve “the look of a plastic mannequin . . . a Stepford housewife, but wearing see-through latex instead of a cooking apron and ’50s dress. She looks confident and powerful because of her attire and gaze, yet helpless because of her abandoned surroundings,” says Rutherford. “This contradiction is what I find sexy about the photograph.” The subject of Abandoned Housewife, 2005, is Darenzia, a fetish model from New York City; the photograph was taken four hours outside of Los Angeles toward Las Vegas. As noted in reGeneration: 50 Photographers of Tomorrow (Aperture, 2006), Marla Rutherford’s photographs depict a surreal universe in which people from the worlds of sadomasochism and fetishism are posed in ordinary surroundings. This juxtaposition brings the strange and banal together, and allows viewers to feel more at ease when faced with people whose practices are seen as deviant. In her brightly colored images, Rutherford uses a style close to advertising photography, in order to seduce the viewer. Her portraits of people from America’s counterculture are brought out into the light of day and treated as commonplace.