Prolific French photographer Sacha Goldberger has put together a marvelous series of paired tableaux that serve as erotic meditations on différance, sex, loneliness, and conflict, and they also function as clever puzzles or fractured narrative that it’s up to the viewer to figure out or complete. The series is called Secret Eden, and it gets more NSFW as more information is revealed.
Every portrait actually consists of two photographs, which go together. In every case some of the subjects are in one of the photos and some are in the other one—both of which depict the same place from the same angle but at different times. When you take in a pair of the photographs, the mind is obliged to superimpose the figures literally “onto” each other, as the people in the pictures (often half-naked and/or supine) inevitably combine to create familiar images of coitus or fellatio.
In lay terms, you look at the two pictures, put ‘em together in your mind, and they’re fuckin’.
Such games do not define the limits of Goldberger’s art, however. On a purely technical level the pictures are masterfully done, requiring patience and precision in the areas of blocking, set design, makeup, and much more. Although the pictures in Secret Eden range in setting from the distant past to the distant future, the core of the images define or exploit a meticulously imagined midcentury modern environment that will cause you to remember the UN building in NYC, the architecture of Eero Saarinen, and the many evocative interiors of Mad Men.
Further, Goldberger runs with the twinned nature of his own project to come up with scenarios that play on the Romeo-and-Juliet-ish binaries that govern our lives—East/West, male/female, black/white, man/beast, and day/night. One of the dual portraits imagines the Cold War coupling of a female U.S. soldier and her male counterpart from the USSR. Another reimagines Planet of the Apes as a sex romp. Others have fun with our shared fairy tale heritage or the rarefied nobility of centuries past. The invariably indifferent or nonplussed expressions only serve to accentuate the essential loneliness captured by the idea.
Two years ago (almost to the day, actually) we looked at “Super Flemish,” another project of Goldberger’s that remagined the superheroes of our own era as 16th-century aristocrats.
A Dog’s Life
Here’s a little video about the making of “Eve 3882”:
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Superheroes and supervillains reimagined as 16th century aristocrats