One hundred and sixteen

Igor

1987 by Philip-Lorca diCorcia
MoMA

diCorcia’s astute eye for colour and composition in everyday life is manipulated to the full in Igor. We have cold steel, silver & grey, in a multitude of reflective layers; the shining pole that stands out from the background is almost hyper-real, and the sheets of metal that form the space behind are high-lighted with the wonderful streak of light formed by the passing train behind. This screaming of light in the dark through the window, emphasised with the blur of speed, is almost chillingly atmospheric, yet possesses a beautiful aestheticism in its futurist bands that change according to the material background across the back of the photograph. This sense of flat backing perspective is given more dramatic emphasis with the angle we view our figure from; he is looming and slightly out of proportion: a huge hand clutching a leg, a small head almost awkwardly leaning back. In his other hand he clutches a bulging bag containing a goldfish; captured stone-still he holds it out to us, his arm in a right-angle, the fish a whisper of orange in its shining translucence that echoes the highlights behind. This orange is picked out with the metro seats that emerge from the right; the everyday orange and yellow now appearing as a deliberate tonal migration, a pantone card among all this grey. Such colour encased in metal, as the goldfish is enclosed, is reflective of meaning in this photograph. These carriages become an emblematic cage of the monotony of everyday working life; we are trapped, no different to a goldfish swimming in a bag.

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