Elsa Quarsell's intimate portraits to go on display as part of the Postcards Festival at Jacksons Lane
1 May 2012
Elsa Quarsell: The Domestic Burlesque
Elsa Quarsell spent two years travelling the world photographing and interviewing hundreds of burlesque performers. Her unique and intimate portraits, first featured in a book, are to go on display as part of Jacksons Lane's Postcards Festival. Opening on the 7 June Postcards is a festival of circus, cabaret and extraordinary performance.
Elsa Quarsell's stunning, and at time surprising, collection of portraits capture burlesque performers in the full glory of their costumery, but uniquely posed 'at home'. Her photographs celebrate erotic playfulness with wit and visual eloquence - they are gloriously sexy, but also enigmatic, occasionally shocking and charged with energy and wit. Quarsell's portraits offer up an intriguing glimpse into these beauties private worlds – kitchen, bedroom, bathroom – bringing fantasy and seduction to the mundane arena of the domestic.
Quarsell's photographs were first published as a large format book – 'The Domestic Burlesque' - where they are accompanied by an interview with each performer. Each entry reveals something about the creative motivation and emotion behind today's burlesque scene. Quarsell photographed hundreds of burlesque performers including some of the most famous like Dirty Martini, Julie Atlas, Polly Rae, Kiki Kaboom, Fancy Chance and Vicky Butterfly.
Burlesque, with a history stretching back to 19th century Britain, when Eliza Vestis became the first known burlesque star in 1817, has enjoyed a massive revival in recent years with artists like Dita Von Teese and Immodesty Blaize coming to prominence. Unlike the male orientated world of the lap dance club, burlesque emanates feminine fantasy and desire, tapping into the thrill of display and the eroticism of costume. Burlesque performers often make their own costumes and props, and create routines charged with not only sumptuous sexual energy but also sass, inventiveness and humour.
Quarsell has been based in London for 13 years and her work has appeared in numerous publications including The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Independent, Arena, Vogue and The Face. 'The Domestic Burlesque' book is available to buy, priced £24.99, at amazon and www.thedomesticburlesque.com