Viktoria Binschtok's photographs are as blurry and mysterious as the situations that her subjects have been hired to navigate. In "Suspicious Minds," we never see the photographs' central subjects.
Rather than displaying the entire news photograph that she appropriates and blows up to massive proportions, the Russian-born photographer zooms in the people around the periphery hired to protect whomever's appearance is the reason why the image was taken.
Binschtok's source material spans photo archives from state receptions, outdoor speeches and random shots of celebrities being bombarded by fans. It is never explicit whether we are witnessing moments when a president or a pop-star enters the public gaze. The importance of a protective figure is therefore equalized and the history altering possibility that a leader might be assassinated is placed on the same plane as the more personalized tragedy of a popular cultural figure being hurt. Instead we see only the men hired to protect them from the inquiring and intrusive public - ie: us.
What becomes the focal point of each image is a conservatively dressed man with a stony stares whose expressionless regard counterbalances the frenzy apparently surrounding him and undercuts the focused interest of the emotionally roused public. They are constant presences in press images and yet they most often overlooked as they look over the crowds with scepticism. In Binschtok's images these me appear bizarrely detached from their settings. Although they are hired to oversee the manic scenes that assault them and their charges, their frozen expressions seem to focus on nothing.
The exhibition's title references Elvis's late song of the same name, which lustily accuses a woman of destroying a relationship with jealousy. However, the function of a bodyguard is to be the embodiment of a public's toxic feelings for the object of their communal adoration. A bodyguard functions like a biblical scapegoat on whom a public's sins are placed thereby liberating us all to hurl our emotions and energy at the star who attracts our unbridled attention.
-- Ana Finel Honigman
(Images: Viktoria Binschtok, Body 116, 2009, c-print, framed, 73 x 53 cm; Body 12, 2009, c-print, framed, 163 x 128 cm; Body 106, 2009, c-print, framed, 41 x 22 cm; Courtesy of the artist and KLEMM'S)