Bodies encased in aubergine stockings, upturned faces under a shell of seafoam plastic, a ballerina’s foot coated in blood—these are all scenes from photographer Joanne Leah’s adolescence. “The story behind this series started when I was a rebellious teenager,” says Leah of her ongoing project Acid Mass. “I would take LSD, go to raves, and my mother would make me go to Catholic mass on Sunday morning while I was still hallucinating. My images are based on that world: ritualistic, isolated, trapped, detached, bizarre, childlike and somewhat violent.”
Out of her Bushwick studio, Leah has recreated these flashbacks, stylizing each tableau herself with themes and gestures both organic and culled from extensive arts research. Each image is a portrait, with a mix of friends and strangers from Craigslist serving as models, and in each, the stage is set down to each idiosyncratic, color-coordinated detail. “The props are personal objects and each have a background story that materializes according to a memory or dream,” she explains, “easter grass that smells like sugar, a blanket that my mother made, an old mannequin found on the street, sand collected from the beach, fabric that I found in my old apartment, sesame seeds from my kitchen cabinet... and so on.”
Below, venture through the turbulent trips of Joanne Leah’s Acid Mass.
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