thinking out loud and saying nothing
They loom out of the darkness, as if hovering uncertainly between past and present, offering themselves for our scrutiny with an intensity that borders on the confrontational. Part of it is the look these people give us, staring at the camera for as long as sixty seconds and more, resulting in a kind of clenching of the eyes (as a sitter, you become aware of the sheer physicality of looking under these conditions, of the need to fight your eyes’ desire to wander). Part of it is the texture of their skin, turned into rugged planetary surfaces by the tintype’s peculiar response to color and high resolution of detail. And part of it is the differential focus with which the subjects are depicted—sharp in some places and strangely liquid in others—as if their bodies are floating in a primordial wet world with just the faces breaking the surface. For all these reasons, Keliy Anderson-Staley’s tintype portraits are best described as other worldly, rather than antiquarian.