Tim Best’s lens-based images begin to whittle away at strident hierarchies of gender, power, and desire within the spectator. Best is careful to implement various thematic intersections: the cinematic yet the denial of the scopophilic, the psychological and the natural world. Series such as Love Letters (2015), Polished (2015-16), and CRUSH (2014-15) incorporate jarring physical acts of violence on the surface of the photographs, be it aggressive rubbing to the point of surface penetration, the surgical rejoining of crumpled prints, or careful incisions that reveal the presence of language beneath. Unsettling not only because of the images’ generally depopulated or lonely locales, but Best also provokes the viewer to make a judgment call: male or female, sexual deviance or abuse, obsessive or adoring.
These relationships complicate the construction of narratives of gender, power, and desire in Best’s work due to constraints placed on the outflow of information. Viewers are left in an uncomfortable place beyond visual and behavioral codes but the burden of responsibility lingers.
– Lauren Richman, Ph.D. Candidate in Art History at Southern Methodist University