Kelli Connell is a photogapher who is from Texas and currently lives in Chicago. She specializes in conceptual multiple self portraits, or to simply phrase it, creating portraits with multiple versions of herself. She works closely with her stand-in and model, Kiba Jacobson, to help generate these images that forces the viewer to look more closely at “the self.”
She gives a detailed set of instructions for her process during an interview with Advocate, “When making each photograph for “Double Life” I shoot several images of my model as one figure, then several images of her as the other character in each scene. I then print out small proofs and make collages comprised of a figure on the left and a figure on the right in order to decide which combination works best for what I am wanting to communicate. I then combine and manipulate these two images into one large, seamless image using Photoshop.”
Her well-known, award-winning body of work, Double Life, is an ongoing project (of fourteen years) that portrays moments of an intimate relationship. In this series, she explores her self as an individual by redefining her identity, sexuality, and overall gender role. Some of her influences include Francesca Woodman and Larry Sultan.
Giggle is one of Connell’s first pictures made using two versions of herself in 2002. Not only are they similar, but they are even wearing the same outfit. This is the only one of her works where she has each of her selves looking identical. I will be focusing more on her newer images, but wanted to show one of her oldest ones so you can see how she and her style changes over time.
Howdy Doody is an image where Connell begins using different outfits to differentiate the versions of herself. The phone booth at the gas station reminds me of the 80s and 90s, and also pairs nicely with my aesthetic.
This picture is my favorite from Double Life. With the cross-dressing, she is exploring her different forms of identity and truly redefining gender roles. The intimacy between these two people is so real, so believable, this image is one of the few pieces she has made that captures everything she is intending to express through photography.
It was made in 2002, one of the first pieces made in this body of work. modeled by kiba. body language. more masculine and feminine. about flirting and watching people in a coffee shop. speaks a lot about identity by how we dress and act.
Sweetwater was created in 2008, and the title was appropriately given after the bar in Texas that the photograph was taken at. Around the time this was exhibited, Connell’s viewers at exhibitions were beginning to create an unintentional narrative for Double Life. To me, this scene seems as if Connell is either looking at a version of herself that she envies, loves, or misses. I particularly enjoy looking at the series and creating my own narrative, much like her other viewers do as well.
One of her upcoming projects is titled Pictures for Charis and is composed of vintage-styled photographs that focuses on her partner rather than herself. Connell’s wife, Betsy, will be the main focus on this research-based project. These are two of my favorite images from Pictures for Charis. To read more about what this project is about, click here!
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