Darlene & Me is like every great movie duo rolled into one, with the glamorous protagonists a tribute to Hitchcock's leading ladies. Bleached hair sculpted into neat victory rolls, matching Hollywood attire and a white Cadillac, the photographs ooze old school sophistication.
Alongside the styling, the dramatic scenery lends itself to the Golden Age of cinema. And although the series doesn't particularly have a storyline, humour and tragedy seem to be prominent features. The scenes leave room for interpretation, with almost all context removed.
The photographer behind the series is Anja Niemi, recently described as ‘one of the most compelling contemporary artists of our time'. She explains: "Darlene & Me started with the content of a suitcase from 1959, that left me thinking about the relationship we have with ourselves. The case belonged to a beauty counsellor named Darlene and contained makeup samples, brochures and the receipts from her sales. Most of the samples appeared to be untouched, but there were clear traces of her fingers in the two lipstick colours Strawberry Festival and Princess Pink.
"In August 1960 Darlene sold a jar of Liquid Beauty and one Temptress’s Hairspray, both were to herself. After that she made no more sales. The case left me with a feeling of a woman’s failed attempt at success, and a strong sense of who got in her way. The woman I envisioned became the only character of my next series, Darlene and Me. Isolated in a rented house in the Californian desert, I took on the part of Darlene to tell the story of my fictional characters intricate relationship to herself.
"Darlene & Me portrays two women, photographed together in displays of conflict or simply in each others company whether in agony or comfort. The two are, of course, the same woman."
Niemi is from Norway. She studied at both the London College of Printing and Parsons School of Design, New York. As well as being a photographer, Niemi undertakes all of the modelling, styling and post-production.
To see more, visit www.anjaniemiphotography.com.
All photography © Anja Niemi