School of Art, Media, and Technology

Erik Heck (MFA Photo ’09 ) in NOWNESS with his new series ‘The High Priestess’

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On an 18th-century estate in upstate New York, Dutch American model Guinevere Van Seenus is cast as the mythical Pope Joan in Erik Madigan Heck’s monochrome fashion short. “Supposedly, she was the only female Pope in the history of the Catholic church, murdered in the middle ages when she was found out to be woman,” says the photographer, filmmaker and founder of Nomenus Quarterly. “I like the idea of the tragic hero as a ‘she,’ when so much of history is told from the male perspective.” Van Seenus has been a longtime inspiration for Italian-born fashion photographer Paolo Roversi and her commanding beauty has been seen in campaigns for Miu Miu, Kenzo and Jil Sander. Here, she acts as an ethereal ballast to the gravelly narration of a Jan Luyken poem, read in Old Dutch by Heck’s friend Deborah Campert. “Guinevere has an otherworldly beauty that is so rare to find—pictures of her don’t seem to belong to any time period,” says the director, whose photography show The Absorbed Tradition opens next week at New York’s BOSI Contemporary gallery. Influenced by British trip-hop of the 1990s, the percussive score of The High Priestess is an original Heck rework of Arvo Part’s “L’Abbé Agathon”. The High Priestess will be shown in The Absorbed Tradition at BOSI Contemporary from June 4th – 14th, at 48 Orchard Street, New York.

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