Sharon Arnold, writing for Art Nerd Seattle, says:
Steven Miller‘s photography is a philosophical declaration that immerses us in its environment. His narratives are penetrating and sublime. His presentation is often cinematic – in past series such as “les Fleurs du Male” he derives his aesthetic from film noir. In other stories such as “Beaster and Bear” the imagery feels like a combination of Flemish, Baroque or Orientalist fairy tales. Often, his stories incorporate voyeurism, historical symbolism, death and ritual. Sometimes, the stories are simply about the people and what binds them close, or pushes them away.
My introduction to Miller’s work was with the series, “Bound“, one of the most beautiful approaches to the relationship of bodies I’ve seen. Fetish photography is abundant in a few circles, but this is far from the usual drab spectacle of intricate knotwork and clever poses. His presentation is deeper – it’s about connectivity, nurture, caretaking, or distance. The emphasis is on the body, or proximity of bodies to one another; not ownership or submission. While subtly erotic, the focus is not on the sexual nature of restriction. Instead, the focus is on the unknowable distance between people.
This sensitive treatment of cultural iconography is what makes Miller’s work so successful. His scenes have depth, metaphor, and philosophy. It compels us. We are familiar with what we’re observing but we are forced to contend with it in a way which places us in the position of a participant, rather than spectator.
Steve Miller’s solo show at Vermillion comes down on Saturday, and I urge you to see it. This series, titled “Wild Boys“, is no less a screenplay or symbolic than his other works but it is strikingly minimal. The story unfolds within a vast landscape that dwarfs its characters. Its presentation is lean, and harsh – like a Steinbeck novel or Coen Brothers Western. The characters themselves feel like meaningful symbols, as in a Tarot, each of them reflecting a facet of our own character or present state: greed, lust, desire, longing, hunger, loss, loneliness. It’s savage but not primitive. These stories unfold now as they have since the beginning of time – men want, men take, men give, men lose. As in Miller’s other work, “Wild Boys” confronts us with certain truths not only about its subjects, but about ourselves.
However, these men are queer men. In this world, they are not subjugated by us. In this world, their actions are exhilarated but dangerous. “Wild Boys” are untamed and perhaps a bit bloodthirsty in some scenes, but they aren’t exactly feral. They are also human and therefore capable of great love, great vulnerability, great sadness, and ultimately fear and death. They can be wounded. They can be held hostage. They can be left behind. This story reminds us what it means to be Other, and that it is a perpetual act of survival.
Steven Miller’s “Wild Boys” is up today (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday) and then it’s gone. I highly recommend you take the time to stop, immerse yourself, and reflect on his stories before it comes down.
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