Portraits and narratives in Second Life

The Itakos Project: Soul Portrait Collection Summer Black & White Edition – Saveria Rossini

The Itakos Project, operated and curated by Akim Alonzo, has undergone an expansion since my last visit (see: Soul Portraits in Second Life), with a new halls  – the Blue Pavilion – and an extension to the Black Pavilion, as well as a new platform gallery that will officially be opening a new exhibition on August 30th.

The Blue Pavilion sees a follow-on to Soul Portraits linked to above, with Soul Portrait Collection: Summer Black & White Edition. As with the first edition this features images from selected photographers who have submitted their work to the Itakos Project Flickr group. However, as the title implies, this selection features black-and-white images, and which had been submitted by Angelina Corral, Aver Osk, Aimee Cristole, Carolyn Diesel, Gabi Ka, Edie Horngold, Latia Lavecchia, -K- Lynagh, Ktsyakumi Izabela Navarathna, Saveria  Rossini and Sunset Theas.

The Itakos Project: Soul Portrait Collection Summer Black & White Edition – Sunset Theas

Further, and in difference to the first edition, the images here are not restricted to head-and-shoulder images; they instead offer broader perspectives – full body shots, those with more of a background in view, and so on.

This, to me, adds a further depth to this black & white edition; the range of images helps to keep things fresh as one moves through the hall, while the broader perspectives evident in some of the images offer a broader canvas on which the imagine can write its own story to accompany each image. Which is not to say those that do offer more direct facial studies are any the less fascinating; quite the reverse in fact. All of the pieces offered here are remarkable for their depth and ability to stir the imagination into framing a story around them.

The extended Black Pavilion offers the second of two exhibitions by Akim that are currently on display at the gallery (the other being The Matrix, which I reviewed here). And I confess from the start that Akim is fast becoming one of my favourite artists in Second Life.

The Itakos Project: Portraits And Some Other Circumstances – Akim Alonzo

In Portraits and some Other Circumstances he presents a series of colour and black and white female avatar studies. Originally displayed in June 2019, the collection has been expanded by Akim, and includes direct portrait studies and a series of “other circumstances”, which present more sensual studies (that feature nudity, and so should be considered NSFW).

These are pieces that again offer scenes suggestive of wider stories. In this, some offer direct hooks to a possible narrative – such as The Model was Impressed by the Old Camera, which places a faceless, naked subject alongside a camera and adds a very subtle twist of double entendre via the title. Others are more subtle, such as Imagine (Looking away), with its suggestion of the things around us we might so easily miss – or the suggestion of things we are never intended to see, but are nevertheless with us – such as angels who watch over us. Throughout all of these pieces there is a subtle use of pose, eye positioning, model placement soft focus, and so on, that gently draw us into each image, asking us not so much to view it, but explore it and consider what might lie beyond each frame.

The Itakos Project: Portraits And Some Other Circumstances – Akim Alonzo

Within the White Pavilion, visitors can find The Edgy World of M, featuring a collection by Maloe Vansant.

In this collection Maloe offers a series of pieces – most of them, I believe, self-studies – designed to tell us about “an unusual and hidden side of her imaginary world.” Most of them are a mix of dark juxtaposed with vivid, rich colour in what is both a powerful contrast and naturally symbiotic balance.

The Itakos Project: The Edgy World of M – Maloe Vansant

This contrast / symbiosis seems to also reflect an underlying narrative with these pictures – each of which might be considered a passage lifted from a story – the colour perhaps representing the “normality” of a life as it is presented to others – a mask if you will; and the black representing what lies hidden behind those same masks of normality: the hidden desires and thoughts – some of which may themselves be dark in nature (the the references to death and the horrors of removing masks).

These various elements come together quite dramatically, drawing us into that edgy world of M, a place that is rich in tone, theme, and image, and which is also at its heart, both personal (on at least two levels – Maloe’s and the observer’s) and intensely primal.

The Itakos Project: The Edgy World of M – Maloe Vansant

Also on display at the time of writing is Simply Dreaming, a further remarkable collection of art by Awesome Fallen, and which I wrote about in April 2019.

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