Not yet 30, photographer Harley Weir is already at the top of her game, filing ad campaigns for Balenciaga, Céline and Jacquemus next to covers for POP, Self Service and Wallpaper and wave after wave of editorial shoots for the likes of i-D, Arena Homme +, Dazed and Confused, AnOther Magazine and British Vogue (the August issue of which documents the return of American actress/model Devon Aoki across two-part series shot in country fields against a background of softly fading light).
Harley’s work recently moved beyond the magazine page to the walls of Amsterdam-based canal-side photography gallery Foam for debut solo show Boundaries and into the pages of a publication of its very own in Homes, which documented the dismantling of Calais’ “Jungle” camp across a set of dusky, delicate images stamped with Harley’s carefully trained eye for revealing flashes of tenderness in places where you might least expect to see it.
Forging a new path is Paintings, set to be published in August by “artist-run publisher and design studio” Loose Joints. Across 152 pages and 90 colour plates in an edition of 1000, the flexi bound embossed hardcover removes the living, breathing subject, allowing Harley to shrug off the label of portrait photographer and in the process remove the medium’s concerns of “trust, power and permission”.
The result is a three year-long “surface study” practise, intentionally devoid of context and place in a search for a “pure” image by the photographer. “With each picture made according to a specific set of rules and criteria, Weir attempts to expunge herself from the act of image-making, and encounter photography as a immediate, indulging process,” Loose Joints explains. ”These images are nevertheless underscored by a tension palpable throughout Weir’s output — the transgressing of surfaces and boundaries, the uneasy relationship between camera and subject, and the inevitable constraints of choice and power that hover around the frame of a photograph. In this sense, these images can be thought of as both a liberation from and a mirror to Weir’s diverse output in fashion, editorial and portraiture photography.”