In Phanta Firma, Long & Stent have quoted and appropriated signs, tropes, and motifs of woman from contemporary culture and the canon of art history as an erotic lure that guides the viewer into unfamiliar territory. In these works the artists have carefully composed their own bodies, and those of friends, according to the traditions of Classical aesthetics. Embodying Botticelliean nymphs and Venuses, Classical sculptures, and sirens draped in material that clings to the female form or billows in a seductive Monroesque fashion, their gaze never confronts the viewer.
However, rather than passive, still and compliant, these young figures are in control, self-assured, and enjoying their own agency as they completely immerse themselves in their hyper real earthly landscapes. For Long & Stent, ‘in dissolving the body within these spaces there is a sense of energy being liberated through the clash and mingling of matter’. This incorporation of the landscape with the female form forces the male gaze to blink and poses questions to the viewer regarding the cultural construction and representation of female sexuality and desire.
Long & Stent’s sculptures, made from blown glass slumped and deflated onto rocks collected while on location shooting their images, and containing water samples from these sites, continue this project. They act as physical conduits to these photographic works, furthering the connection between the viewer, the landscape and the figure's experience.
Phanta Firma is a playful fantasy that seeks to embed itself in solid ground.