Hellen van Meene, untitled
A consistent theme running through Hellen van Meene’s photographs is gravity, or, as it appears, its lack thereof. In one particular image by the Dutch art photographer, a young girl appears to levitate as it leans against a wall. The harsh sunlight coming through the windows falls on the girl’s white gown, resulting in the photograph being overexposed at her feet touching the ground. The visual effect of levitation is caused by the lack of visual information in the overexposure, but also, because the girl appears taller than her childish facial features might first suggest. Yet van Meene quickly debunks the perception that this is a girl in a woman’s body by also depicting the edge of a door frame to the side of the image as a reference point. It is within this framework that the viewer gets an understanding of the child in relation to the rather decrepit surroundings of an attic. In the photograph van Meene appears to tap into the visual iconography of the classic horror film ‘The Exorcist’ (1973), where, in a key scene, a girl possessed by the devil is floating above her bed. The levitating body in the attic, despite the bright warm light shining through the window, ads a haunted aura to van Meene’s photograph.