Look: Gerard Petrus Fieret

I’m endlessly fascinated by lo-fi photos — the grainy Polaroids from the dusty highways and byways of this strange world. Photos that have stories behind them. Stories of dead-end towns, fleabag motels, be-bouffanted glamour queens and shadowy enclaves. If you come to my apartment you will find a collection of found photographs of people I don’t know.To get personal, I’ve had an inexplicable love of lo-fi oddities ever since I was a kid. I remember endlessly pouring over my brother’s WFMU (New Jersey indie free form radio) ¬†catalogues. This was in the mid-90s ¬†and these catalogues were full of truly bizarre mail-order albums by anonymous pre-internet weirdos, campy pictures of French starlets, shadowy Joe DAllesandro beefcake posters and Japanese game shows on VHS. I don’t know why something inside of me was so moved by those catalogues, but I would spend a great deal of time wondering what ever happened to the people who existed within them. Oddballs who lived in grainy, de-saturated photoscapes so very different from my own sunny suburban one. Then I grew up and realized that although many artists replicate that lo-fi vibe for artistry’s sake, few are actually truly reclusive weirdos who live in hovels. Then…I discovered Gerard Petrus Fieret. Yesterday.

Fieret was a Dutch photographer who adored photographing ladies of all shapes and sizes (sometimes voyeuristically, sometimes not) but always with a marked — yeah, I guess it’s creepy? — voyeuristic gaze. He had a pathological fear of being stolen from and thus stamped all his photos with his name and address (sometimes obsessively, sometimes not) and signed them with his trademark bold scripty autograph. These stamps and fading black text are a major component of why I was so taken with and intrigued by his work. I began to wonder — would I be mad if he only copyright-stamped my photo once as opposed to three times? But then there’s the way he photographs his models. Most of the models are photographed deer-in-the-headlights style but never aggressively or maliciously. There’s a sense that Fieret truly loves his subject. His camera lingers over every curve, relishing the contours of a pair of sturdy legs, the apple of a cheek, eyes peeking out from bangs or a girdle indentation around a fleshy middle. His models are not traditional beauties, but the way his camera gazes lovingly and unblinkingly at them transforms them all into lo-fi beauty queens whose stories you truly wonder about. And apparently he had quite a long story behind each photo too. More pictures after the jump. — Marlo Kronberg

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