Five piece set includes, 2011
10.25 x 5 inches
This is directed by an image in a swimwear catalog, which I have traced over with a knife. I see this as extracting elements of drawing from the printed color image. I have bought some of these bikinis online and am very happy with them so the catalog works as a sales tool but I find the images unsettling. The combination of beautiful specifics and implied narrative keeps me in a closed loop so I chose to alter this by dismantling the image’s luscious but unsatisfying qualities. I wanted to extract something less lurid that would be less specific, giving me an exit from the frozen cool of a fictitious life. So I selected elements I wanted to look at from the "realism" of the photograph and transferred these to another situation by tracing a contour drawing. The result is recorded as the cut edges of excised shapes, and presented as a shadow on a second layer of Mylar.
A simpler, neutral image feels more congruent with the reality of volume printing, the relentlessness anonymity of hundreds of thousands of copies of this girl. Without the details of the scene and the girl herself, I am less likely to imagine myself splashing playfully in her place. Without the details and product descriptions "matching slouch tote with logo lining...", "hipster with side cinch..." it is impossible to think about buying anything. I don't identify with the shadowy, ghost girl. I can never be her. Instead, the stereotype is made obvious at the same time as THIS particular image has become singular. There is now a way out of the picture, for me. I can move beyond a specific narrative to contemplate broader issues. ...What about the stereotype it presents? What messages are embedded in its structure?
So I've taken action, I've imposed my will in a different way than the marketers intended. I think it has enabled me to see something more clearly. Is it revenge, a sense of outrage that drives me to overturn this "innocent" image? To rip this small drip-feed of consumer medication from my vein? We live and breathe within the calculated structures of 21st Century life so is it a futile gesture? Yes and no. The image is now the subject of a drawing.
A topic for another day.