One of the most famous lines in literature comes from the classic fairy tale Snow White. "Mirror, mirror, on the wall," the evil queen purrs to an enchanted looking glass. "Who is the fairest one of all?" Obsessed with her appearance, when the queen learns she is not indeed the "fairest," she sets out to destroy the one who is.
Our generation may not be as overtly savage as the queen, but we are arguably equally transfixed by our reflections. Social media is the ruler of our kingdom, and our filtered selfie camera is our magic mirror. We may not be killing our opponents, but many of us feel compelled to make sure our mug gets more "likes" than theirs.
Australian photographer Murray Fredericks is reclaiming mirrors from narcissists in his new series Salt: Vanity . Rather than using the mirror to look at one's physical self, he urges viewers to "draw the gaze outwards to the immediate environment and the cosmos."
"The mirror can be seen as emblematic of our obsession with ourselves, individually, and collectively," Fredericks tells Creators. "In the Vanity series, rather than reflecting our own 'surface' image, the mirror is positioned to draw our gaze out and away from ourselves, into the environment, driving us towards an emotional engagement with light, color and space."
Fredericks created his photographs by dragging a giant mirror out into the middle of Australia's Lake Eyre. At 3,668 square miles, Eyre is the country's largest lake, though at only one inch deep, it's more like a massive, beautiful puddle. He's been photographing the body of salt water since 2003 and spends weeks at a time shooting the vast and infinite landscape.
In each of his series on Lake Eyre, Fredericks intends to document the lake not just as a landscape, but as a medium in itself. He composes every photograph with an unbroken horizon placed in the lower third of the frame, providing the viewer with a perspective of complete endlessness. Being out in the middle of still, expansive Lake Eyre is meditative, he explains, and he aims to have that feeling come through in his art. During hours of soft light, especially, Fredericks finds that an image will present itself out of "the nothingness." His addition of a mirror to the landscape takes these images from peaceful to surreal.
"In these images I find my own, flawed search for a kind of perfection," he says. "Perhaps it is a search driven by my own anxieties or vain attempt to escape the human condition. Standing in the silken water, surrounded only by a boundless horizon, I sense a release, a surrendering as the self dissolves into the light and space."
Salt: Vanity is on display at Hamiltons Gallery in London through June 14.