There is a silent eloquence in a person’s gaze which relates the interior world to the exterior. Each gaze captures a moment, mirrors a fleeting emotion and prompts empathy for the subject. Directed outwardly or inwardly, it assesses a certain relationship to the photographer and to the spectator.
The French philosopher Emmanuel Lévinas brilliantly analyzed the duality of the outward gaze, which seems to strip away our identity as well as paradoxically provides an element of self recognition (Alterity and Transcendence). This duality distinctly appears in fashion photography, where the subject addresses and deliberately seduces the viewer. Inward gazes in turn indicate signs of contemplation and in a mimesis fashion, the viewer identifies with the subject and starts contemplating for a brief moment. However, while the photograph prompts our imagination, the subject of the model’s reflection remains a complete mystery. As Cicero first said, if the face is the picture of the mind, the eyes are its interpreter. I would like to share with you these photographs by looking closely at the diverse and powerful gazes from the collection of the Staley-Wise Gallery.