Amanda Bentley James—whose photographic series Shadows runs at Art Access II—creates images of senior citizens in their surrounding environments that are frank and candid. James divides the show into photographs of the individuals themselves and images of residential treatment centers, hospital beds and home interiors. These compositions are not staged; these are not actors but real subjects (or individuals), with no more artifice than James’ very able use of the camera.
James uses intense white lighting and compositions that are exceptional while still maintaining the integrity of the uninhibited nature of her subjects. Her artist’s statement reads, speaking of her grandmother, “I found it interesting how vulnerable she had become. I grew extremely curious to discover how other older people were living. I started photographing other older individuals living in their homes surrounded by their possessions.” James neither glorifies nor subverts the individual or the spaces that represents their histories, but uses the camera objectively.
The potency of the exhibit might be the multiple meanings viewers may find in the realism of the subject. The photographs are neither beautiful nor ugly; the spaces are neither lavish nor abject. Viewers may find themselves in a quizzical state of placing various concepts together, and it is apparent that James invites investigation. The camera views those in their final episodes of life with no pretense or affectation. This approach allows, although often uncomfortably, a truthful and candid examination of death and dying.