Is 70 the new 25? Ageing is on most people’s list of worries as many think of their retirement years with dread; a life of knitting, bingo-playing and complaining that everything is either too loud or not loud enough. New York-based photographer Sasha Frolova, however, is determined to reverse these stereotypes.
For her series Progeria, Sasha photographed a spirited elderly couple wearing leather leashes and experimenting with inversion tables. Sasha clearly has a skilled photographic eye, which she assigns to her mother’s tough love. “I think I technically have to credit my mum for getting me into photography. It’s not because I have some glam story where she was an artist and opened up the universe for me. It’s more because she told me I didn’t have any hobbies, wouldn’t get into college, and signed me up for my first class,” Sasha tells It’s Nice That.
Despite their undeniable onscreen chemistry, Progeria’s star couple were unacquainted before the shoot. “Amy is a contortionist by the name of Amazing Amy who I had modelled with previously and I found Anthony backstage. They were both down for anything and playful like children,” the photographer explains. Water fights and plastic dinosaurs on the one hand, skintight jumpsuits and fishnets on the other, Progeria is an ambiguous representation of age. By incorporating a playfulness into the intimate shoot, Sasha challenges the viewer to reconsider the role age plays in our society.
Progeria, Sasha explains, was inspired by her friend Maximum Henry’s collection of snakeskin belts, which comes as no surprise considering the amount of leather featured in the series; even Anthony’s electric guitar strap looks suspiciously like a leather belt. “I would go over and watch Maximum work and think about how handsome the belts were and about how they belonged on a fancy elderly couple with a lot of zeal. My fantasy had to be actualised,” and so it has. Sasha’s attention to detail is impeccable. The closer you look at the series, the more belts you will see: belts on hats, used as chokers and worn as bracelets.
From the clothes to the composition, Sasha’s striking shots are considered and expertly executed. The artist recounts the moment she cast Anthony. After listening to her proposition, the suave man asked Sasha about the scenarios she was planning to shoot: “I’m up for most things and I am very cooperative but I do a lot of church work and I wouldn’t like to get involved with something that might put me in a bad light in that respect. I don’t think your shoot is something like that… I just wanted to put it out there up front.” Sasha said she later found out Anthony “had played Clifford the big red dog in a play and was an expert” in front of the camera.
In her photographs of Amy and Anthony Sasha reimagines ageing as an endless horizon of possibilities rather than a linear trajectory. Through its depiction of role plays – queue I Wanna Be Your Dog – and play fights, Progeria oozes joie de vivre and reminds us to take life as it comes. “Age is a spectrum of experience not capability. We are like Russian nesting dolls with every stage of life inside of us.”
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