The Sweet & the Tough

12.12.2013

By Jerry Portwood

Michael Ernest Sweet captures a dark visual paradise with The Human Fragment

"Fur" by Michael Ernest Sweet | Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Arts Press

Montreal-based photographer Michael Ernest Sweet spends a lot of time in New York, and in his stunning first first full-length book, The Human Fragment, he captures the Fellniesque and the ominous in the city's streets and beaches. Or as Bruce LaBruce commented: "Great shots from the other side of the street…revealing authentic timeless moments. Michael Ernest Sweet’s images transform ordinary reality into the unforgettable."
As Michael Musto writes in his forward to the book, the photographic essay "reads like a real-life film noir." He goes on to state:

"The black and white images are haunting and tough, with lots of sunglasses, smoking, scars, freckles, and lived-in folds of flesh filling every frame, an occasional smile providing extra shock value. What’s more, though a pair of clasped hands might be the focus of a photo, other parts are usually left out; Sweet lops off heads like a human guillotine, but in much more artful ways. He omits body parts in the way suspense films of the 1940s would withhold information, adding to the alluring mystery of the situation and leaving it to the viewer’s imagination to fill in the blanks...

"One of Sweet’s finest photos shows a person (probably a lady) gliding past a midtown street grating, though all you see is her fur coat, her matching handbag, and a few fingers sticking out of the right sleeve. No face, no nothing—only the fur, because that’s obviously what defines this person, making for an image that could just as easily have been a satirical cartoon."

The book The Human Fragment is available now at BrooklynArtsPress.com

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