In pursuit ofportrait
photographers, Alice Bain meets image builder " Andy Wiener. while Sally
Kinnes confronts the modest egotism ofBrian Griffin.
This Page - From Andy Wiener's Sex Scenes
Opposite Page - Top Left Broadoate Worker. Bottom Left Big Bang. top Right Broadqate Tie. Middle Right Stanley Prince. Bottom Right Margaret Thatcher
Fertilisation Implantation Gestation BIRTH Yes Doctor. I think I have the idea. Love Separation Marriage Divorce LOVE (io on . . . Domination I)e.speratfrm xi rta/_\'.s‘is ('().\'('[.L'.S'l().\' The story of Barbie. Ken and lle-Man ends here. lsee'.’! Read on. Andy Wiener. a young Scottish photographer who could put Dr before his name but chooses to keep his medical career apart from his artistic one. came round with this story in his portfolio ready for the Edinburgh Festival. ‘lt's the first series I’ve done as a complete piece. There‘s asymmetry to it which is hard to see when you see them
5 individually.’ So out on the carpet
l ._ _ - 8 The List 19— 25 August 1988
In the first photograph. Fertilisation. Barbie (alias an all-American Barbie doll) is what
Wiener describes as ‘waiting for the i right man . . . the lawyer. the doctor or the man of her dreams.‘ Smoothie Ken arrives on the scene and the first f series ends with a Mills & Boon style romance. true l.()\’li. But lle-Tylan ripples in muscle in the background. small at first and then dominating the scene. He whisks Barbie away to glamour-land and ultimately unhappiness. ‘l le-Man is a cartoon character and toy which appeals to boys. He's a goodie. a sci-fi warrior with enormous strength. very attractive but hates women. All his relationships with men are pow et' relationships. Skeletor(the baddie) isalways telling l le-Man to kneel before him and when he won‘t submit he gets lashed and whipped or sent to the other side of the universe.’ lie-Man then is not into love. but power and machismo. .\'o wonder Barbie leaves him for a job on the telly and finds herself in DESl’l-ZRA'I‘ION. ‘lt's to do with sexual stereotypes. which by definition applies to all of us. 'l'hese
As well as dolls. Wiener also uses masks on the real thing in his set-up photographs. Wearing the masks friends of his are prepared to pose in little l’rench knick-knacks. will stab each other in bed and sit in a kitchen with condoms. With a gentle bedside manner. Andy explains. ‘ln a way they're a parody of the documentary portrait - when you go into someone‘s home and take a picture ot'them next to their favourite possessions. But here. they let it slip and show what‘s going on beneath the surface. What tickles me about the masks is that people are hiding in the picture and yet projecting something to the camera.’
Visual probing began when Wiener
was still at school. Landscapes were his hobby then. Photographers like Paul Strand were an important discovery. and half-way through tnedical school he almost gave up to take a BA in photography. Sensible advice persuaded him that his photographs at that stage were easily as good as a BA gt‘adttate's and that it would be wise to earn his title ‘l)octor‘ and take a postgraduate in photography. He did and during the
two years at the Royal (’ollcge of Art »
in London which he has just completed. he switched from landscape to the narrative studies to which Barbie and lie-Man belong. l.ike ('alum (‘olvin. another student ofthe Royal ('ollege and graduate of Dundee. and lidinburgh's Ron O'Donnell. Wiener has developed a 7 very personal style. based on images built for the picture. rather than ' found. Magazines. adverts and films provide tnuch of his inspiration — Wiener looks at life the way it is interpreted by the media and then throws it back. in doing so. he mirrors the gloss and colour of most commercial media today. ‘I want to make them as attractive as possible
so people are drawn to them. You don‘t need to be incredibly visually educated to read them.’ Wiener combats the visual junk around by joining it and beating it squarely at itsowtt game.
I asked him then whether he would display his portraits oflife in his waiting room at work. i le is a psychiatrist. Slowly. quietly he said ‘I don't think it would be fair.‘
Andy lite/tens /.()t'(' Scenes and l'rntl‘ Set Scenes ("an be seen at Knea/e and Rinse/lsire/titer“. .i/ .-i/t'a .SI l'iree Info 556 Jill 7. Mun-Sat ltlam—J/nn.