Imagine you are 8 or 9 or 10 years old. You are invited to a birthday party, a costume party, and encouraged to dress up as a creature of your own wild imagination. How would you imagine your alter ego at age 10?

Some of the innocent ones dress as princesses, dancers, spacemen, or angels — sublime and stunning. Some boys choose the macho images of soldiers or gladiators. Other young party-goers seem more in touch with their dark sides, and arrive as gleefully-mean rodent exterminators or scowling torturers of baby dolls. The scared ones seem as if they were dressed bizarrely by Mommy Dearest and forced to participate against their wills in this nightmare freak show.

All together, the party takes on the tone of a twilight zone of dark dreams, hidden desires, innocent beauty, and sinister revelations of twisted inner realities. An unsettling mixture, to say the least. Not much fun, unless you crave the bizarre and surreal. A little bit like real life sometimes, no?

This is the most recent photo series created by Australian-born, Paris-based photographer Vee Speers. People who remember her Bordello series will recognize Speers' continuing fascination with the trickery of appearance, and the power of masks, costumes and outward signals from inner worlds.

These new photos seem suspended in time, much as the Bordello series did. Speers achieves this through brilliant casting, simple backgrounds, costumes and hair-styles that cannot be easily placed in modern times, and subtle hand-tinted color effects added to the original black-and-white Polaroid prints. The life-size images hover, large and luscious, on the wall — and can stop you in your tracks.

— Jim Casper