A seminal experience for American photographer Malerie Marder (born 1971) was a family friend’s request for Marder to photograph her with her lover, naked and in the anonymous setting of a motel room. This set the tone for Marder’s work for the next decade. Her photographs of nudes are composed simply, much like portrait painting, her subjects sitting plainly near the center of the frame, often set against the bleak anonymity of motel rooms, their impassive gazes almost daring the viewer to interpret their bodies. “Marder has explored the psychosexual undertow of her own intimate relationships,” Siobhan McDevitt wrote in Artforum, “frequently shooting herself along with family and friends in close quarters (including pay-by-the-hour motels) and, usually, undressed. She flirts with prurience, with ideas of privacy and surveillance, eroticism and pornography, but seems more satisfied when approaching the complications of love or being in love.” Beautifully illustrated, Carnal Knowledge contains 77 color reproductions of these photographs, as well as new texts from James Ellroy and Neville Wakefield, a preface by Gregory Crewdson, short stories inspired by Marder’s work by A. M. Homes, James Frey and Bruce Wagner, and a Q & A for Marder devised by Philip-Lorca diCorcia. It is the first volume to collect these works and to bring Marder’s work to a wider audience.
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