The self-portraiture of Kristamas Klousch has had an enduring fascination for me. Enigmatic, alluring, and almost painfully intimate, her portraits of a self-described “strange little wolf-girl residing deep in the forests and cities of Canada” are often blurred, double-exposed, over-shadowed and seemingly encroached upon by time and imperfection. The decaying and spectral beauty of these images is extremely nostalgic. Taking inspiration from classic self-portraitists such as Francesca Woodman, Cindy Sherman, and Sarah Moon, Kristamas’ work harkens back to such vintage analog photography, and has immense individuality, every shot being touched with emotion, atmosphere, dreams, and attended with all the ghosts of subjective experience. They are eerie, disturbing, moody, distorted, fervidly beautiful and otherworldly – filled with an almost sinister sadness.
The myriad, muse-like, ever-changing face is partly obliterated and obscured over and over, but retains the vividly evocative ability of the most memorable visages. Having a phantasmal and nebulous quality, these images are yet charged with an emotionality that seems mercilessly to pierce through to the private and intimate regions of being. They resemble daguerreotypes capturing intense moments of interiority, of childhood and adolescence and womanhood, the bizarre deliciousness and agony of so strangely inhabiting one’s body – precious tintypes which have been warped with the emotions like the presence of a ghost. The decay has bloomed on them, frosting them with shadows in so mysterious a manner. They faintly give off a scent of crushed flowers. The poetic quality and experimental nature of Kristamas’ photography appeals to me like a lingering ache, like a mossy cabin, like fallen leaves, like a cross blazing from the wall, like lipstick with the redness of wounds, like a lost glove, like a dress that I loved as a child.